You know what's even harder than the beginning of college? The end of college. Imagine this: you are an entitled, sort of lazy, self-involved, aimless 23-year-old living with your little brother WHO WILL NOT PICK UP HIS SOCKS, your feet are always wet due to the fact that it won't stop raining and the only time you aren't hung over is when you are drunk. You know what song makes a lot of sense at that point? This one. "You may case the grounds from the Cascades to the Puget Sound, but you aren't permitted to leave." Whoa. Can't someone install a high-speed train to Los Angeles? Counter girls can't afford plane tickets. Note: each cover of this song on YouTube is sadder than the last. I felt this one really encapsulated the hopeless, dark sadness and inevitable missed notes and bad guitar playing of the whole thing. Even though the video is a panda for some reason, which really undercuts the HUMAN EMOTION here. You can also watch Ben Gibbard do it right.
The Shins: We Will Become Silhouettes
This is the classic "who is covering whom?" situation, but the truth of this song is The Postal Service wrote it and played it first and then their neighbors, The Shins (The Postal Service was from Seattle and The Shins from Portland), played it their way and probably made it even more popular. The 2000s were a time of neighborly sharing and desperation. How lucky we made it out alive!
Chasing Weekends: Sleeping In
There is only one Postal Service song you can play on the ukulele without getting punched in the face and that is "Sleeping In," which is all about magical thinking and literal dreaming. In your early twenties in the Pacific Northwest in the winter, the only time happy ukulele music is even mildly appropriate is in your dreams. Otherwise, it's Elliot Smith until you pass out. This adorable little girl and her puppy have clearly never experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder but I forgive her because she is just so cute and taking this genuinely tragic song so literally!
Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis and the audience: Nothing Better
This isn't strictly a cover since The Postal Service is half Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis actually sang this song on the album. However, this live acoustic version of the impossible love song that basically defined my life in early college is less melancholy than the original and less heartbreaking, but still as beautiful. "Don't you feed me lies about some idealistic future. My heart won't heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures." TRUE STORY.