Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kept Alive by Science

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano and Remember Cassettes, Vol. 1

“Unfortunately, he was kept alive by science and the drugs of men,” the song opens.

Unfortunately?

Unfortunately.

How sad of a life can one person live that it should be said it’s unfortunate that he was kept alive? Or is it unfortunate that science is keeping him alive instead of giving him a natural death? Either way, strictly in terms of mood, Big Notebook hits bottom with this eulogy of sorts, finally bringing the most down-tempo music to the darkest of subjects: the end of life. It always makes me think of gray autumn skies with bare trees just after all the leaves have fallen.

The song keeps the “he” in this story a mystery, but I always imagine it being a father figure of some sorts to our speaker as he prepares for the person’s final exit. The song’s somber tone leads to desperation, making it easy to picture the speaker trying to hold back tears, regardless the reason those tears are there. This is one song I like to keep mired in ambiguity, like most of them on Big Notebook, as it then can lend itself to whatever I'm feeling. A bad day at work? It makes me feel better somehow. There's just something in the way he sings, "Unfortunately," that makes me feel.

People argued that “Daddy Scruff” was the song on Big Notebook to establish the band as something more than a simple piano pop band when I suggested the CD would have been better without that song. I would now submit that this song is both the better song and the one to really show the listener the depth of the band.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's "better" than Daddy Scruff, just way different. Either way, another one of my faves from this era. Love the B's guitar line/countermelody in the chorus part under Seth's "Unfortunately" refrain.

Juan Horsetown said...

I try to limit the amount of comparative language among songs, but since it's my blog, I'll throw it in every once in awhile. ;)

Soymilk Revolution said...

i could never place this above one of seth's very finest, but this is a damn fine tune as well. you nailed the imagery, too -- sad autumn landscapes.

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