Welcome back to SONG-FREUD, the only music column that doubles as a deep cavity search of your favorite Bay Area music. A pro bono psychotherapy session available for public consumption, SONG-FREUD is also a public service. It is good karma to write, and good karma to read.
“Nunca” means “never” in Spanish, a fact I know because I’m a polyglot and a professional. Yet for Oakland four-piece Trails and Ways, the word has special meaning. In their song of the same name, the narrator sings Never never never, but in his heart, as you will soon learn, he may actually be subconsciously striving to turn that ‘never’ into a sometime, eventually or a dans mes rêves.
Even though “Nunca” may sound like it’s about a fun time in São Paulo, which is a warm city, it’s actually a confession of lust for the graffiti artist Bansky. Realistically, this passion will never be realized, because Banksy likes to travel, and doesn’t want you to know who he is. But the narrator is clearly hoping that the elusive artist, who for all we know might actually be a plate of waffles, will show up and give him a hug, or more…
If you’re dubious, which you shouldn’t be, then look no further than the opening seconds of the song, in which we hear, indisputably, the sound of a spray paint can; Banksy’s weapon of choice. Vocalist Keith Brower Brown’s breath-y tone, which evokes the second verse of John Mayer’s “Your Body is a Wonderland,” kind of, further confirms our theory that Brower Brown wants to hold Banksy’s hand. Brower Brown asks the British (we think) artist to “Show me shapes…I can’t translate,” a clear reference to his unfamiliarity with the details of Banksy’s physique, particularly that of his fingers, which may be gnarled.
The paradox of the song becomes evident when Brower Brown refers to “your city.” Bansky can’t be pinned to any one place, he is morally and physiologically obligated to travel the world in search of more blank walls to paint things on – this bittersweet truth only solidifies the earnest conclusiveness of the lyric “You hide.” Obviously, no one tells Banksy what to do, not even Trails and Ways! OMG I could have totally told them that and saved them so much time!
By the song’s end Brower Brown has come to terms with the fact that Banksy often disappears, perhaps to plan his sequel to “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” or take a bath. Brower Brown has accepted that the only way to follow him is through his graffiti, which is often pretty good. He subsequently asks the famous artist to leave a mark on his chest, which is the body’s emotional core, according to Judeo-Christian tradition. The guitars and drums also have a vaguely homoerotic tempo.
Listen to Trails and Ways’ “Nunca below: