Wednesday, June 10, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 10: A Song That Helps You Fall Asleep

If you've ever lived close to a train track, which I have for many of the years of my adult life, you know exactly what it means to love and to believe in the sound of a train in the distance.  There's something seductive and promissory about that sound, something that assures you that there are other places, places where things might be otherwise, where people might be happier, or sadder in a different way, where strangers to you are friends to one another, where what is familiar to you is strange and what is strange to you is familiar.  The sound of a train in the distance sounds likes "somewhere else," like a dream world, like the place you want to go when you're trying to fall asleep.


My pick for today is Paul Simon's "Train In The Distance," which is a low-humming and cooing sort of lullaby that always helps me fall asleep.  Here it is:



That line-- negotiations and love songs are often mistaken for one and the same-- registers on my top-10 list of greatest lyrics of all time.  In fact, there are a dozen or so lines like that one in this song: lines that serve as building blocks for this particular story, but at the same time serve as universal (or universalizable) observations about the things we love and the things we think are true.  "Train in the Distance" is also a perfect example of Simon's attention to the more minute details of human drama ("from time to time, he makes her laugh, she cooks a meal or two"), details that are not themselves "dramatic" at all but rather which serve as the mise-en-scène for the countless other dramas that make our lives human lives and that everybody thinks is true.

The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.

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