Number 6 was largely about the memories I’d attached to it, so it’s fitting (and such a nice segue! and a little meta!) that Number 5 is a song about the memories we attach to songs.
This song is also difficult to for me to write about, because usually the way I begin thinking about these posts is to identify the parts of the song that are especially effective at making me sad, and then work my way out from there. But no one part of this song really stands out, because the whole thing makes me sad. There’s no wasted space here, no missteps to serve as a foil for the really penetrating moments.
The experience described in this song is universally understood. A forgotten sensation (an auditory one here) causes a mundane moment to be flooded, for a the briefest second, by an extremely clear vision of the past. It’s like Proust, but better, because it invokes this universal experience so concisely, and with rhyme (my inner philistine rejoices). Even when the memory stirred is banal, I can’t help become a little melancholy and mournful when this happens. I regret blowing through that phase of my life so quickly. I never stopped to appreciate the person I was and the circumstances I was in, and now I’ll never be that person in those circumstances again.
But the memories brought back by the old song here are especially sad, because they are from the peak of a relationship that has since waned to oblivion. Suddenly, the narrator is able to appreciate just how great the distance between that reality and this one is.
There’s…there’s just so many elements to this that there’s no way I can cover them all. The contrast between the controlled, largely expository verses and the emotional, enthralled quality of the bridges creates this beautiful tension between the reality of the present, the vivid recall of the moment she buried in the song, and the rush of joy and its accompanying remorse. There’s the way she asks her “hasty heart” to allow her this one transgression, which is such a moving personification. There’s the way that, when hearing this song for the first time in a long while, the opening bars immediately transport me back to sitting in the passenger seat of my mother’s green Ford Aerostar, as she tearily explains to me why this song is so beautiful. That, I think, is what completes the perfect sadness here: when you hear this song years later, you have old memories attached to it, and it’s thus singing about its own effect on you. You relation to the feelings in this song couldn’t be more perfect or immediate.
I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’m not very happy with my commentary on this one. So I’m asking you guys (yet again) to help me out. What is it about this song? What are the most stirring parts, and how do you respond to them? Memories this song remembers when for you are certainly welcome too. Ashley, you reminded me about this one, so your thoughts are especially invited.