Evolution of a Song-“Such Great Heights”

The js collaborating at a recent rehearsal (Aug 2011)

Many of our fans have asked us how we choose such interesting and diverse music to arrange and perform.  We thought we would take a song we recently recorded, “Such Great Heights” and share our experience with it.

The song itself has an interesting back story. It was originally written by Benjamin Gibbard & Jimmy Tamborello of Postal Service in 2003 (Benjamin Gibbard is also the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie). It has also been covered by the band Iron & Wine. The song has been used in several television commercials: Ask.com, Kaiser Permanente, Target, UPS and M&M’s.  It  was featured in the trailer for the 2004 film ‘Garden State’ and the Iron & Wine version was featured in the film and its soundtrack. You can also hear it featured in the hit show Grey’s Anatomy, (hello, McDreamy…) and it appears on its season one soundtrack, Grey’s Anatomy Original Soundtrack Volume 1. “Such Great Heights” ranked 27 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Songs of the Decade list. (…and thank you Wikipedia…)

The Julian connection to the song started last spring.   Our lovely and talented Maria transcribed the solo verses, wrote parts for the chorus and brought it to the group.

The Js performed ‘Such Great Heights’ on the Melodies & Desires show in May with the fabulous Chris Fotinakis on guitar.  Our audience loved the performance of it so much (and so did we!) that we were inspired to continue adding layers and developing new versions of an already great arrangement. 

Maria industriously taught herself some ukulele and figured out an accompaniment for the song and in a recently recorded jam session in August 2011, Liz, Vakare, and Kristen played around with harmonies on the verses.  The result is a pretty kickass tune.  We hope you think so too.

(To hear the Julians performing this and other tunes, please visit their website.)


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