Monday, November 02, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #31: The Funeral by Band of Horses

I flew back to Indy from Connecticut when Dave died. After the funeral, I was talking to one of his ex-girlfriends when she wistfully sighed, “I never got a chance to say goodbye.” I was puzzled to hear this, primarily because it was the first (and thus far only) time I’ve heard someone actually utter that particular sentence in real life. I thought it was something only said in the minds of unimaginative screenwriters, along the lines of a wedding officiant offering, “If anyone objects to this marriage…” or a nerdy girl at prom demanding to know, “Was I just a bet to you?”

From the time that we become old enough to understand life and death, we are taught that final breaths can come quickly and without warning, be it via a car crashes, aneurysm, or any assortment of freak acts of God or nature. But these occasions are the clear exception.  Far more often, we are confronted with a death where we find ourselves with too many chances to say goodbye. Long illnesses, or a diagnosis where we’re told the end is definitely coming but cannot predict the exact date, leave both the dying and the survivors with little to do but wait. And as that tortuous wait plays itself out, you realize that you no longer fear a phone call coming in the middle of the night or the middle of the workday. Instead you fear that every phone call will in fact be THAT phone call. Every visit ends with you walking to your car, wondering if you’ll still have reason to make the return trip the next day or week.  It's a thoroughly exhausting process for all parties involved.

“At every occasion I’m ready for the funeral.”

The first verse is ethereal and subdued, with falsetto vocals soaring over the hallowed-out reverb of a lone arpeggio. With the second verse, the catharsis kicks in under the guise of searing power chords and the full drum kit. The vocals are still mournful but unflinching, shouting into the ether of sustain effects.  The loss, be it still just expected, or having finally happened, is ever present, but there’s an underlying defiance that stands in place for optimism that can't yet be seen.

It's also apparently a natural soundtrack for yet another car ad, but at this point is anyone really criticizing these business moves?  It's not as if there's another viable option for as many people to see the original video, which channels John Cassavetes' directorial style of close ups and overall human misery.  When you're seeing dead animals in your whiskey tumbler, it's time for someone to take your keys.

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