A few days ago I wrote a post about a track called Boeing 737 by The Low Anthem. In the lyrics of that song The Low Anthem intertwines the tragedy of the World Trade Center terrorist attack with hanging out in a bar with Philippe Petit (the man who strung a high wire between the twin towers). In that track there is a certain beauty found in what is ultimately a melancholy and utterly tragic experience. It takes a unique talent to capture the bittersweet emotions of certain events and forge from that fire something beautiful and worthy.
The Low Anthem succeeded with their song Boeing 737. Sufjan Stevens somehow paralleled his own short comings with those of John Wayne Gacy, Jr., in a heartbreaking song. The Weakerthans have a brilliant song called Night Windows which details the loss of a friend to the war in Afghanistan. And although this list could probably continue, I am often reminded of the following track by The Long Winters.
In The Commander Thinks Aloud, John Roderick, lead singer of The Long Winters, tells the story of astronauts on their way home from a mission. He details their euphoria, the return of gravity as they descend, and the amazing and breathtaking view they are afforded from their seats. And yet, just as they begin to descend, as he sings the line “Can you feel it we’re almost home? / Yay! Yay!” it all starts to fall apart. The song ends as the space shuttle Columbia begins to disintegrate and fall apart. Yet from this great tragedy; not only for the astronauts we lost (and their loved ones), but for the entire space program as well, The Long Winters have found a beautiful way to tell their story and commemorate this event.
It’s tracks like this that keep me blogging. Originally recorded for their 2005 EP Ulitmatum (amazon) (itunes), the original version of this song is filled with guitar distortion and feeback. The version I have posted today was recorded live in the WOXY Lounge (which no longer exists as both WOXY and their website went out of business and were closed permanently in 2010) and I believe it is the definitive version of the song. I am fortunate enough to have snagged this version a long time ago and I wanted to make sure it was passed around the internet a few more times. Enjoy the music, no matter how tragic it can be.