It is difficult to reproduce Sonsick live. Listening to the several live, YouTubed versions of the song, I’d say the band is batting about three or four out of five, but probably closer to three. Then there was the essentially disastrous outing of the song during the unplugged NPR Tiny Desk Concert. This might have been enough to break some bands, at least caused many to take a pass.

Not to suggest that the formal recording itself was doctored in anyway. Rae Cassidy can simply blow. But the extraordinary, magnificent extreme she can reach is just hard to do, particularly when accompanied by the sometimes screechy sometimes pitchy falsettos of her bandmates. (On an aside, I do hope she is taking good care of that marvelous voice because the demands of that song strikes me as something that can be damaging.)

When I see her walk up to the microphone each time on YouTube (and during my own live concert experience), I get the feeling that she is a bundle of nerves, not knowing what will come out but quite aware of our overbuilt expectations for the song.

Sonsick is marvelous in its obscure lyrics, which I still refuse to look up and clarify, thus maintaining maximum space for individual interpretation. We each can make of it what we want. And since, at its core, it is an anthem, we’ve been able to roar along with the band as we project our feelings of grief, happiness, loneliness, and joy.

Far more than anything I’ve heard this past year, Sonsick is 2013’s Song of the Year.

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