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"Step" is a song by New York City band Vampire Weekend, released in 2013. The song is "inspired by" a song by Hip-Hop band Souls of Mischief, called "Step to My Girl", starting out with a brief quote for that song before heading in its own direction.

A personal note: I have wanted to write about this song since I heard it, in the summer of autumn of 2013. It captured my mood personally at the time, being a song that managed to be both sentimental and ironic, although perhaps that was more of my mood than anything. This being four years too late, this writeup won't be read by Dannye, one of Vampire Weekend's improbable fans. And neither can I explain quite as how I felt about it in 2013, but that is okay: the past is gone and I can't resurrect it.

"Step to my Girl" was a hip-hop song by Souls of Mischief, a subset of Oakland, California's Hieroglyphics crew. It was focused around romantic jealousy, and served as a warning to interlopers not to interfere with their girlfriends. Romantic jealousy is not at all a positive thing, but it is a common theme in music, and the original song, composed when the performers were in their teens, had a soft edge behind the posturing. Vampire Weekend took a hip-hop song about jealousy and turned it into an indie song about something else. They slowed it down, made it sound so mellow it is like it is underwater, and turned into a series of seeming nonsequiturs. I like geography, and I like how this song begins by listing four seemingly unrelated places: Angkor Wat, Anchorage, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and Dar Es Salaam, before going into an ironic take about the difference between New York City and San Francisco (but actually Oakland, and its wry comment about a girl who was in Berkely with her communist reader. From there, the song continues for a "conventional" verse chorus verse structure, all directed vaguely at the idea (to me) of change and loss. The song communicates perfectly the idea of being passionately attached to that we know is gone, something that is carried through in the video, showing black and white scenes from New York City. I have heard the video glossed as being about music, with the attachment to music seen as romantic attachment. That makes sense to me, but to me, it is about being attached to times and places. But those aren't inseparable: to me, nothing can evoke a time and place like music.

I haven't paid as much attention since 2013, what it means to be "indie" might have changed, if that term has any currency at all anymore. A detractor might have said this song was a mishmash of styles and references for the sake of being eclectic, and if the song didn't enchant me, I would have to agree. But to me, this song feels creative, and its labyrinthine lyrics and odd sonic quality are perfectly evocative to me.

Step (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Stepped (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Stepping.] [AS. stæppan; akin to OFries. steppa, D. stappen to step, stap a step, OHG. stepfen to step, G. stapfe a footstep, OHG. stapfo, G. stufe a step to step on; cf. Gr. &?; to shake about, handle roughly, stamp (?). Cf. Stamp, n. & a.]

1.

To move the foot in walking; to advance or recede by raising and moving one of the feet to another resting place, or by moving both feet in succession.

2.

To walk; to go on foot; esp., to walk a little distance; as, to step to one of the neighbors.

3.

To walk slowly, gravely, or resolutely.

Home the swain retreats,
His flock before him stepping to the fold.
Thomson.

4.

Fig.: To move mentally; to go in imagination.

They are stepping almost three thousand years back into the remotest antiquity.
Pope.

To step aside, to walk a little distance from the rest; to retire from company. --
To step forth, to move or come forth. --
To step in or into.
(a) To walk or advance into a place or state, or to advance suddenly in.

Whosoever then first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
John v. 4.

(b) To enter for a short time; as, I just stepped into the house.
(c) To obtain possession without trouble; to enter upon easily or suddenly; as, to step into an estate. --
To step out.
(a) (Mil.) To increase the length, but not the rapidity, of the step, extending it to thirty-tree inches.
(b) To go out for a short distance or a short time. --
To step short (Mil.), to diminish the length or rapidity of the step according to the established rules.

 

© Webster 1913


Step, v. t.

1.

To set, as the foot.

2. (Naut.)

To fix the foot of (a mast) in its step; to erect.

To step off, to measure by steps, or paces; hence, to divide, as a space, or to form a series of marks, by successive measurements, as with dividers.

 

© Webster 1913


Step, n. [AS. stæpe. See Step, v. i.]

1.

An advance or movement made by one removal of the foot; a pace.

2.

A rest, or one of a set of rests, for the foot in ascending or descending, as a stair, or a round of a ladder.

The breadth of every single step or stair should be never less than one foot.
Sir H. Wotton.

3.

The space passed over by one movement of the foot in walking or running; as, one step is generally about three feet, but may be more or less. Used also figuratively of any kind of progress; as, he improved step by step, or by steps.

To derive two or three general principles of motion from phenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the properties and actions of all corporeal things follow from those manifest principles, would be a very great step in philosophy.
Sir I. Newton.

4.

A small space or distance; as, it is but a step.

5.

A print of the foot; a footstep; a footprint; track.

6.

Gait; manner of walking; as, the approach of a man is often known by his step.

7.

Proceeding; measure; action; an act.

The reputation of a man depends on the first steps he makes in the world.
Pope.

Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.
Cowper.

I have lately taken steps . . . to relieve the old gentleman's distresses.
G. W. Cable.

8. pl.

Walk; passage.

Conduct my steps to find the fatal tree.
Dryden.

9. pl.

A portable framework of stairs, much used indoors in reaching to a high position.

10. (Naut.)

In general, a framing in wood or iron which is intended to receive an upright shaft; specif., a block of wood, or a solid platform upon the keelson, supporting the heel of the mast.

11. (Mach.)

(a)

One of a series of offsets, or parts, resembling the steps of stairs, as one of the series of parts of a cone pulley on which the belt runs.

(b)

A bearing in which the lower extremity of a spindle or a vertical shaft revolves.

12. (Mus.)

The intervak between two contiguous degrees of the csale.

⇒ The word tone is often used as the name of this interval; but there is evident incongruity in using tone for indicating the interval between tones. As the word scale is derived from the Italian scala, a ladder, the intervals may well be called steps.

13. (Kinematics)

A change of position effected by a motion of translation. W. K. Clifford.

Back step, Half step, etc. See under Back, Half, etc. --
Step grate, a form of grate for holding fuel, in which the bars rise above one another in the manner of steps. --
To take steps, to take action; to move in a matter.

 

© Webster 1913


Step, n. (Fives)

At Eton College, England, a shallow step dividing the court into an inner and an outer portion.

 

© Webster 1913

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