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:
Had a dream
You and me and the war of the end times. . . .
Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab
You know what I mean
On the road
It’s well advised that you follow your own bag
In the year of the chewable Ambien tab
And the Panamanian child
Stands at the Dowager Empress’s side
And all that remains is the arms of the angel
And all that remains is the arms of the angels
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