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Beirut, the brainchild of young musical prodigy Zach Condon, became an indie sensation almost overnight in 2006. Condon's music has a distinctive sound full of romance, mystery, and, maybe most importantly, a persistent feeling of distance. His rich concoctions have often been compared to "postcards" (sometimes even by Condon himself), which is appropriate for songs that frequently take the names of cities and towns far from the Albuquerque bedroom where he recorded his successful first album, Gulag Orkestar.
"Elephant Gun" appeared on an EP shortly after the release of Gulag Orkestar. The song perfectly captures Condon's surprising sense of nostalgia and geographic distance. But what is a mysterious missive that seems to be from the European past doing on an indie album released by a 21-year-old Brooklyn-based hipster?
About the Song
Perrin Cloutier (accordion), Zach Condon (vocals, ukulele, mixing, piano, trumpet), Kristin Ferebee (violin), Paul Johnson (mixing), Jon Natchez (clarinet, Glockenspiel, sax, ukulele), Adam Nunn (mastering), Nick Petree (percussion), Kelly Pratt (euphonium, flugelhorn, trumpet)
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
"Elephant Gun" has the transporting quality of much of Condon's music: it is cheerful but removed, imaginative rather than autobiographical. But where is Beirut's melancholy melody meant to transport us? Is it a postcard from World War I, Europe's haunting era of elephant guns and violent chaos? Or perhaps World War II, an undeniably unromantic era that has nonetheless become the inspiration for many a nostalgic work of art? Is Condon transporting us in the direction of Lebanon, which was torn apart by war with Israel in the years before Condon was born in the 1980s? Is it possible that he is actually making some sort of obscure Hemingway reference? All this is for you to decide while you explore the lyrics, meaning, and music technique behind "Elephant Gun."