Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Musical Wednesdays: Two Songs With Premonitions

I always find it weird when a song is written and then a line in it becomes weirdly predictive of something that happens later. I can't imagine it's too common, but two songs come to mind.

The first one is a few years old, a Hold Steady song off of Separation Sunday. It's a great album that I could write about for weeks if I had nothing else to do (or if, you know, the 33 and 1/3 people hired me to write about it) but one of my favorite songs is called "Don't Let Me Explode." There's a bit about Saint Barbara in there (patron saint of munition-men and other hazardous occupations), but the bulk of the song is this narrative about finding a home in America. It's a theme the band covered well in "Killer Parties" from their first album, but this song is different:

"Yeah, we didn't go to Dallas,
'Cause Jackie O'Nassis said
that it ain't safe for Catholics yet.
Think about what they pulled on Kennedy,
and then think about his security.
Then think about what they might try to pull on you and me."

It's more about a spiritual yearning than a catalog of places the narrator has partied through, and there's a line that has always, always struck me as odd.

"Yeah, and he said, 'What about New Orleans?'
She said, 'I don't think you understand what that means.'"

This album came out in May of 2005. And then two months later, the meaning of "New Orleans" changed. It's a strange bit of prophecy in a very Catholic band, and even though I know they weren't talking about what New Orleans came to mean, it still kind of haunts me.

The second one is a bit lighter: it's in the song "So Far Around the Bend" by the National, off of the Dark Was the Night compilation. It's about a lost and listless woman that the singer just can't seem to connect with (even as he describes her actions) and ends with a repeated line, "Now there's no leaving New York," which makes the song (for me) about a failure to connect in a city of millions. But the line that I noticed this weekend was this one: "Praying for Pavement to get back together." This compilation only came out a few months ago, and now? Prayer answered.

Are there any other songs that strangely predict the future? Let me know if you think of any.

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