Study Guide

Elephant Gun

Elephant Gun Introduction

In a Nutshell

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 a "postcard" (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's 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

ArtistBeirut
Year2007
LabelBa Da Bing!
Writer(s)Ryan Condon, Zach Condon
Producer(s)Owen Pallett
Musician(s)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)
Learn to playUkulele Chords
AlbumLon Gisland

Music Video

Influences on Beirut

A Hawk and a Hacksaw
The Magnetic Fields
Neutral Milk Hotel
Jacques Brel
Charles Aznavour
Serge Gainsbourg

Influenced by Beirut

The Silent League
Alaska in Winter
Kočani Orkestar
LNZNDRF
Owen Pallett

Elephant Gun Resources

Albums

Gulag Orkestar (2006)
Beirut's first album was the brainchild of Zach Condon, who was only 19 when the album was released and became an overnight indie hit to his own—and others'—surprise.

Lon Gisland EP (2007)
This six-track album served as an enjoyable musical stopgap between Beirut's successful first album and a follow-up full-length album.

The Flying Club Cup (2007)
This skilled and fascinating sophomore album came out just months after Lon Gisland.

March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland (2009)
Zach Condon kept up his global travels and shifting fascinations with this double EP recorded partially in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Images

Young Zach Condon Plays a House Show
This photo really captures the surprise and nonchalance of Zach Condon's sudden indie domination.

Beirut, the Band
The 8-piece lineup solidified for the album The Flying Club Cup was a big step up from Condon recording alone in his bedroom. With the band's staple members, it usually consists of 6 musicians.

Websites

Beirut's Official Site
Get tour dates, music, t-shirts and a bit of background on the band.

Matt Fink, "Zach Condon: Found In Translation," Under the Radar (2007)
This interview with Condon gets personal and stays interesting, providing a powerful image of a very young Zach Condon handling a load of intense transitions with grace.

Will Hermes, "Rock's Balkanized Root to the Indies," The New York Times (2007)
Hermes explores the growing international fusion trend in pop rock, focusing on Beirut's brilliant mash-ups. Beirut, alongside bands like DeVotchka and A Hawk and a Hacksaw, draws from Eastern European cultures without necessarily imitating the musical styles closely. The Times asks why this tendency is becoming an indie trend.

Rachel Syme, "Beirut: The Band," New York Magazine
Here's another personal dive into Zach Condon's transformation into Beirut.

Video & Audio

"Elephant Gun" Music Video
Beirut's first official music video highlights both their musical maturity and their youthful hipsterism. Depending on your perspective, they either seem like cool geniuses or like overconfident kids.

"Elephant Gun" Live
Beirut's sound is fabulous recorded, and fabulous live. A video can't capture either of these, but the musicians' power and versatility still comes through.