5 Songs / 5 Famous Hills

5 Songs is a weekly series where we point out the strange, the grand, and the unique connections between our favorite songs. Let’s get weird.

Words by Chris

*Movie trailer voice* In a world with Grassy knoll. Bunker Hill. Hippie Hill. Mulberry Hill. Now Draw Us Lines will thrill you where no one is safe and only the brave will survive and nothing can stop it and hold on tight this summer the hills will have you!

“Harrowdown Hill” / Thom Yorke / The Eraser

If you haven’t seen the video for this song, stop everything and check it out. It’s quite the video. This is a fantastic song about mob mentality, and how fucking depressing that shit is. The lyric and the nervous yet funky beat build this wild energy about being snuffed-out by a police state. “Did I fall or was I pushed? Then where’s the blood?” The video shows footage from crazy riots where people are getting run over, which of course calls to mind some more recent riot police troubles. “We think the same things at the same time, there are so many of us so you can’t count.” The bass line for this song can stop rubber bullets.

Thom Yorke / Harrowdown Hill

Buy The Eraser at Insound

“Winter Hill” / Doves / Kingdom of Rust

Possibly the polar opposite of the last song is this nostalgic one by my favorite Manchester band. And speaking of videos, this one has a group of British children chasing a BMX daredevil around a small town. So how’s that? Well, the song implores you to “climb” and “return” and be in love and stuff. This kind of music makes young kids invincible for four-and-a-half minutes so leave them (and, sniffle, me) alone.

Doves / Winter Hill

Buy Kingdom of Rust at Insound

“Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” / Hüsker Dü / New Day Rising

Amid the impenetrable fuzz and smashing that is Hüsker Dü’s sound, there is a heart-warming description of a charming young lady that will get you drunk and have sex with you at her parent’s house. Bob Mould’s blistering solo is like the relentless speed-freaked pursuit of this high school buzz. Kind of a cool experience, that.

Hüsker Dü / Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill

Buy New Day Rising at Insound

“I’m Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill” / Grouper / Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Liz Harris’s music is so quiet it sounds like a very faint echo of a memory, some strange sketch of one unearthed from childhood. That photo on the cover of her 2008 record, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, is one of the more frightening things I’ve ever seen OR one of the cutest, and I think that is a good description of this music. It’s a lot of vocal (especially this song) but it’s so watercolor-like that it moves past the ear like ambient music. I hope this deer was consumed, because that would be humane.

Grouper / I’m Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Buy Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill at Insound

“Grace Cathedral Hill” / The Decemberists / Castaways and Cutouts

Reaching all the way the hell back to the Decemberists’s first record, and giving props to the shin-breaking hills of San Francisco—not fun to walk up and down but it is quite beautiful. This song is like a big cozy blanket, so I’d like to wish you a day like the one this song describes, just slinking away into the city lights.

The Decemberists / Grace Cathedral Hill

Buy Castaways and Cutouts at Insound

Great picks, CC! Can you think of any other “hill” songs that might belong on this list? Leave us some comments!

4 Responses to “5 Songs / 5 Famous Hills”

  1. Lets go back in time a bit. What about Peter Gabriel and Solsbury Hill? It really brought hill songs into the mainstream.

  2. “House On The Hill” by Audience (1971)

  3. Good picks, Kurt and Mike. “Blueberry Hill” is an even older example!

  4. Oh yeah, and I’ve been listening to Conduits a bit lately, and “On Top of the Hill” is excellent.

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