Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get Out of This Country”

By • Apr 20th, 2010 • Category: Jukebox

Travel Jukebox is a semi-regular series that highlights songs befitting a life in transit. It also ignores the obvious flaw in its metaphor, since traveling with a jukebox is next to impossible.

There’s a presumed confidence that comes with globetrotting. It’s the idea that only people with a certain bravado and of a specific brazen disposition fit the mold to leave their friends and family on a whim, check any reservations of their looming ignorance at the ticket counter, and venture full forth into new foods, new languages, new customs and new cultures.

This romanticized image of the solitary, macho journeyman is alluring, … but like Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and other earthly legends, it’s just not true.

Few songs come as saturated in this understanding as Camera Obscura’s “Let’s Get Out of This Country.” Tucked halfway through the band’s 2006 LP of the same name, the Scottish ensemble delicately – yet unapologetically – twirls through a three-minute, 20-second declaration that traveling is as much the byproduct of overwhelming fear as it is of fearlessness.

From the onset of the opening, titular lyric, vocalist Tracyanne Campbell’s sticky Glaswegian accent casually laments her hometown mistakes, brushing past the details with a beautifully reconciled matter-of-factness.

“Let’s get out of this country / I’ll admit I’m bored with me,” Campbell sings during the first half-minute. “I drowned my sorrows and slept around/ When not in body at least in mind.”

Yet, it’s this revealing opening verse’s optimistic conclusion that sets the tone for the remainder of the twee-pop ditty.

“We’ll find a cathedral city / You can convince me I am pretty,” she suggests next.

At first listen, the brash embrace of her infidelities and stonewall assumption that she remains as attractive to her partner harkens back to the flawed image of a self-sufficient, arrogant troubadour. It’s as though her request to “let’s get out of this country” is more a threat (“come with me, or I’m going alone”) than a heartfelt plea for company.

But tucked within the song’s opening 40 seconds – layered among the marching drums and spiraling string arrangements – Campbell’s suggestion of marriage is chock full of insecurities. You almost can picture her wincing as she offers up the idea, fearful that the proposal could be rejected with a resounding laugh.

Oh no, she’s not threatening to leave on her own. In fact, she can’t.

And she’s not demanding to be told she’s pretty, but instead, hoping someone else might truly believe that she is.

So when she questions, “What does this city have to offer me / Everyone else thinks it’s the bee’s knees / What does this city have to offer me / I just can’t see / I just can’t see,” Campbell sings so not as a hypothetical question, but rather as a person worried she missed what so many others found.

“Let’s Get Out of This Country” is passionately hopeful and self-aware, tugging equally on our insecurities and inherent buoyancy. It’s a song rooted firmly in companionship despite its transient entreaties. Few acts play to both those traits as well as Camera Obscura, soundtracking emerging life changes with an understanding that traveling isn’t about leaving people behind, but better when you bring them along.

Or more accurately, when they bring you along with them.

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