“TOKION Song Book” Vol.3 Fleet Foxes’ lates song “Can I Believe You” reflects the divided modern times.

Fleet Foxes’ new album “Shore” was impressive with artwork using seaside photographs by Hiroshi Hamaya, who captured the Japanese scenery and life of Pre/Post World War II. The frontman Robin Pecknold stated a long sentence about this album, in which Robin wrote, “I wanted to make a work that blesses life while looking directly at death.” We wonder how should we connect with people as the battle between people around the world and unknown viruses continues. Mr.Niimoto, a writer living in Brooklyn deciphers lyrics of Fleet Foxes “Can I Believe You”.

The word “believe” has come to heavy things nowadays. Maybe I can say it’s somber one.
We have always been skeptical about interpersonal relationships, society and the mass media. It’s not new to have anxiety and worries about whether you’re being fooled or being used by someone and eventually being overtaken, and that fluctuating mental state is human essential thing.

On the other hand, this unstable feeling also has aspects that arise only in modern society. Needless to say, digital culture have a prodigious influence on us.SNS is now a tool that we use on a daily basis as a source of information, and has become a service that the majority of people from all over the world participate in as a place to interact. At the same time as exchanging opinions and providing information, it provides an opportunity for participants who have similar views, concept of values to gather.

Think about this from the opposite direction, it can be said that it created a strange comfort that you do not have to deal and talk with people who do not agree with your opinions and ideas at all. Rather than conflicting with each other or hating hair and causing trouble, there is an increasing tendency to spend time with like-minded people, even online.

However,this situation cause losing the oppotunity to conform the idea even if one part disagrees.Of course, when you go out into society, you will come across people who do not fit in with each other, but by accumulating the experience of finding things that can be shared, people should have learned to hone their reason and conscience, respect others, and have grown up.

Gathering in a certain closed environment, whether real or online, can help you sort out outsiders. Or even if you’re inside, when you say something unexpected or take action, you may be branded as no longer a member of the group.
From this point of view, we may be more suspicious than ever before. I feel that the tendency to not allow ambiguous answers in interpersonal relationships and not to find a compromise has created a society with an explosives storage, one wrong choice cause a big incident.

American rock band Fleet Foxes made their debut with “Fleet Foxes” (2008), released their second album “Helplessness Blues” (2011), and after a six-year charging period, “Crack -Up ”(2017) resumed music activities. “Can I Believe You”, a fantastic seaside photograph by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Hamaya, beautifully portrays such a “suspicious” era in the latest work “Shore (2020)” used in the album design. Is recorded.
The band’s acoustic songs, which inherit folk rock such as CSNY and Simon & Garfunkel, which swept the music scene at the end of the 1960s, are always easy to hear. On the other hand, if not as direct as “Ohio”, a protest song created by CSNY based on the 1970 Kent State University shootings, this “Can I Believe You” reflect this divided modern world.

Can I believe you?
Can I believe you?
Can I
Ever know your mind?
Am I handing you mine?
Do we both confide?
I see it, eat through every word I sow
See what you need to, do you doubt it’s yours?

(Lyric from “Can I Believe You”)

Since “I” and “you” are the song subjects, at first glance, I get the impression that romance has become a strained relationship after a certain period of time. However, assuming that you are talking to all the people you encounter in society, you will see something quite different.The key words are the words “eat through every word” and “See what you need to”.
The narrator puts something into words in a dialogue with others, but not only does it not reach his thoughts properly, but it is distorted by the person who did not intend it at all, and it is summarized in the sentence “at through every word”.
It seems that it reflects the phenomenon of the times when the means of communication changes due to digitalization, one’s remarks are cut out from the context, only that is emphasized, and the emotions of the recipient are reversed.
If there is a misunderstanding or misunderstanding, there is a way to approach from here to get it understood correctly, but this narrator does not take a concession approach. On the contrary, the self-righteousness that warns the listener that he should not admit his own blame and think carefully about what he is doing can be read from “See what you need to.”

Now I’m learning the ropes
Never get this close
I’ve been wounded before
Hasn’t let me go
It never got less strange, showing anyone just a bare face

(Lyric from “Can I Believe You”)

When I think about what the ropes that comes here show, words such as compromise and fusion come to mind. I don’t know if it’s thick or thin, but the rope that connects to someone can’t be cut off even if he wants it, and he’ll stick to him forever.I can’t help but feel the connection that human beings have with other people. Although there are differences in ideology, we have something in common somewhere in ourselves. There is such a faint brightness hidden in the depths of the song that it has the potential to be unraveled someday, while having the frustration of not stepping into the overlapping part.

Text Niimoto Ryoichi
Illustration Masatoo Hirano
Edit Sumire Taya


Ryoichi Niimoto

Born in Kobe in 1959. Writer. He moved to New York in 1984 and lived for 22 years. After returning to Japan, after working as a full-time faculty member at Kyoto University of Art and Design, moved to New York at the end of 2016. “Reading “New Yorker”” is being serialized in the Japanese edition of “WIRED”. The main author is “Looking for that sky” (Bungei Shunju).Currently Lives in Brooklyn.