The subjects of Andrew Bird’s songwriting are usually philosophical musings about “Natural Disasters,” “Heretics,” and “Fake Palindromes”—never anything so simple and straightforward as love. It seems, though, that the reason Bird has never taken on love is because it’s too complicated. “I can’t write simple love songs. People are complex,” said the singer-songwriter in a statement. And Bird’s latest effort, “Left Handed Kisses,” is a love song that’s anything but simple.
“My inclination was to write a song about why I can’t write a simple love song,” Bird said. “The song began as an internal dialogue. At first it was just my voice. Then another voice came creeping in and I thought ‘this should be a duet if I can find the right person.’ I needed to find someone really indicting.” He found that person in Fiona Apple.
In “Left Handed Kisses,” Apple provides the perfect counterpoint to Bird. “I don’t believe everything happens for a reason,” begins Bird. Apple counters, “To us romantics out here, that amounts to high treason.” The duo go back and forth throughout the song, with Apple’s contradictions sounding as much like internal dialogue as the parries of a lover. “The point your song here misses is, if you really love me, you’d risk more than a few fifty-cent words in your backhanded love song,” she sings. Is that her discontent or Bird’s dissatisfaction with the words themselves? Love is a complex thing, after all.
“Left Handed Kisses” is smart, thoughtful, and succinctly wrought, much like the entirety of both these artists’ repertoires. The track is the first shared from Bird’s new album, Are You Serious—out April 1 via Loma Vista.
Let us know what you think of the song in the comments below.
IMAGE: Nate Slevin