100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #56: “High” by Sir Sly

The song at #56 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “High“, by Los Angeles-based alt-rock band Sir Sly. Released in March 2017, the marvelous song was the lead single from their second album Don’t You Worry Honey. Led by a dominant buzzing bass line, the deliriously upbeat track lives up to its title, bopping along with a snappy dance beat and roughly-strummed jangly guitars. I love lead singer Landon Jacobs endearing vocals, and the guys’ exuberant vocal harmonies in the choruses just make me feel happy!

In a general sense, the song title would seem to represent a double-meaning – feeling high from drugs and/or feeling high on a life free from drugs. The opening lyrics “I’ve been smoking on the peace pipe. I’ve been wondering just what would peace be like” speaks to using drugs as an escape, and wondering what the world would be like if discord was replaced with peace and tranquility. “I remember back in Oakland. I was lying there in rapture on the bathroom floor” refers to an incident when Sir Sly was touring with The 1975, and Jacobs got much too high from the drugs he’d been using, and ended up having a panic attack on the bathroom floor of their motel room. He stated the lyric was originally to be “I remember back in Oakland, when I thought that I was dying on the bathroom floor”, but changed it after realizing the panic attack was actually a positive, transcendental experience. But then he sings of going through withdrawal and struggling to stay clean and resist the temptation of drugs: “It feels good to be running from the devil / Another breath, and I’m up another level / It feels good to be up above the clouds / It feels good for the first time in a long time now.”

I love this song, and the delightfully trippy video is my absolute favorite of 2017. How can anyone not like this band and song after watching them dancing about like marionettes channeling Cirque du Soleil!

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