Calamitous Snippets of Song

Dwindling Light(c) 2012 Stephanie Glennon

One of my daughters is a radio frequency surfer.  One song line reliably will make her zip to a new station, and I do not know whether it is because of the country undercurrent (which somehow has slipped into a longtime favorite non-country station) or the lyrics.

I cringe when I hear the same opening words: “If I die young, bury me in satin, lay me down on a bed of roses. . . “ No death is that pretty, I think, irrationally incensed by lyrics written by someone only a little older than my eldest son.  Don’t romanticize it.  Have you ever seen it?  

Then there is the vast array of songs I know Jim would have enjoyed, to which he would have tapped his right hand against the underside of his steering wheel in time with the percussive beat.  I suspect he even would have sung along on his own, on his way to work.

I hear these so much differently now.   In Jim’s truck I recovered a single music CD (the rest of his music had been committed to an elaborate electronic system he so skillfully installed that no one else was capable of un-installing it) on which Jim had written the band’s name and the album title with a green sharpie, in box-like capitals: Arcade Fire, Funeral.

The Decemberists sing catchily of chains of calamity.  The beat and rich, inventive lyrics would have had Jim’s head nodding along to the music every time.  He might have come into the house at the end of a long day at work and had the beagles howl along to the chords which linger after the final chorus:

“And you’ve receded into loam

And they’re picking at your bones
Will call cold
We’ll come home…”

In Wasting Light, the Foo Fighters’ Easy for You to Say opens with “One of these days, your heart will stop and play its final beat…”  Anatomically and grammatically dubious, I know, at least in sequencing terms, but there is lyrical license.

Many of these songs, I know, have to do with break-ups, with metaphorical travails of the heart.

But my children were there when their father’s heart slowed and stopped beating, and I wonder how they hear these words.  I suspect that they are better than I at hearing them for the musical qualities their father would have enjoyed so much.




(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

5 thoughts on “Calamitous Snippets of Song”

  1. The world is different now – words of songs take on much richer meanings than before. Sometimes the lyric writers are poets (and sometimes not so much). Music was always one of Jim’s loves – and he unearthed music that was great that we had never heard of. My own Ipod is filled with the strangest collection of music, but which really helps me process the big feelings of the last year, and frankly makes me feel better! I think it’s cool that you are getting into the groove with Jim’s music. Maybe a singing career on the horizon?

    1. Man! It is like you understand my mind! You seem to know so much about this, just like you wrote the book on it or something. I think that you could do with some images to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is good blog post. A wonderful read. I’ll definitely revisit again.

      1. Thank you, and very good advice about images. I’ve added one and may add some others. I think it does help to have some kind of visual image with each post.

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