Whatever you do, do not split the pole. Anchored in ancient tradition and folklore, it’s bad luck to separate when walking down the street, choosing to pass on opposites sides of the pole (or person, cone, post, whatever it is). Many believe it could cause a dangerous outward ripple, effectively breaking up a friendship or romantic entanglement or causing further harm. Like many superstitions, the roots of the belief are murky, at best, but stem from very tangible fears. Paul Otten, of Canadian-American folk-pop duo Big Little Lions, is a staunch believer of such a notion (much to the chagrin of bandmate Helen Austin). So, the two did what they do best and wrote a rather whimsical song about it. “When it all falls into place, then I wonder why / When it all feels too safe, I run towards the fire,” they unwind over a swirl of piano, guitar and kicking drums.
On the deliciously jaunty hook, they poke fun at a smorgasbord of archaic superstitions, claiming a deliberate daring to test their boundaries and their luck. “I step on the cracks, split the pole / Knock on wood / And look for the black cat / Open umbrellas on the 13th floor / Leave through the different door / Here am I, alive and well…,” Otten and Austin howl, situating themselves as not delusional skeptics ⎯⎯ “I’m not invincible…just a little cynical,” they correct on the second verse ⎯⎯ but as “only human,” they later assert.
“’Alive And Well’ is a playful take on the phenomenon of superstitions, from the point of view of someone who thumbs their nose and laughs at them. It also follows the edgier theme of the album, while still maintaining the melodic fun that the band have brought to all of our music,” Otten tells B-Sides & Badlands, premiering the song and its accompanying simple but playful music video today. In the visual, seemingly filtered through Instagram, the duo take turns plucking away at the ivories, twirling an open umbrella in the house and engage in general cheeky shenanigans.
“Alive and Well” officially drops everywhere Friday (Jan. 12). The album (of the same name) is expected to release Feb. 23.
Photo Credit: Karen Pantuso