It's a sad sappy sentiment swathed by a sweetly sincere melody. It's a song that is beloved by English dandies updating their playlists and American teengirls getting over something big. It's not a song that should be played at weddings (too insular, too apocalyptic). It is my favorite pop song of the decade ("pop" defined as "popular" - something played on the radio and at The Gap, something performed on American Idol). It's Somewhere Only We Know by Keane.
I'm breaking tradition by not embedding a video link. You've heard it and if you haven't you will eventually. I, for example, never heard it until 2006, two years after its release. (I have however heard every "official" song ever recorded by American Music Club, Prefab Sprout, Lock Up Your Daughters, Customer Parking Only, and Ween). I want to talk about the immediately familiar sentiment of longing for something meaningful - hoping for the future by recalling a place from the past:
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So he contacts someone from way back and says hey let's go back to that one spot we both love:
Why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
It should be noted that these guys wrote/performed this song when they were in their late twenties. So if that guy with the mop-head hair and youthful howl was "getting old" back in '04, then I've already got old. But you know that just means I have more places that I know.
Today I was in a Trader Joe's in Orange, California. I had only been in that location twice before, with one person in particular. This afternoon I was there with someone else - my mother. And as we drove down Tustin Street (or is it Tustin Avenue? - they keep changing it), Mom pointed out the places that were there in 1985 when we used to come to Orange to visit the cousins and the aunt. She noticed the Bank of America and the Stater Bros. store and Toyota of Orange. I recognized a different batch of places - from 2007 mostly: Cherry On Top frozen yogurt, Pomodoro, the signs pointing to "Old Towne" (why does 'town' get an extra 'e' and old gets squat?), and the little claustrophobic Italian place where I was exceedingly happy one night.
And there are other somewheres, with other people (for more detail, click on the archives and have at my life story.) It could be a numbered noodle place or an apartment with a blocked view of dark hills. It could be a log cabin visited on Highway 61. Or that stretch of Route 611 where Jim insisted he be placed in the trunk before we drove another inch (we were 18, he liked a girl and wanted to be near her.) Or Lisa's Pizza in Westwood (NJ) or Abbot's Pizza in Santa Monica. Or pizza everywhere because I like it (no - I love it!)
And it's mostly "simple things" that I long for - peace of mind, ease of sleep, love of life, life in love, pizza, basketball, 700+ page novels, etc. They haven't gone anywhere. People and cats come nd go, live and die. Longings keep breathing, their pulse accelerated by how many there are and how few are honored. I vow to help everyone important in my life go to those places they/we only know. If you'll do the same for me.
And now I'd be breaking with new tradition by changing my mind and emdedding the video if those fops from Keane allowed it. Nope. Here's a link instead:
I will never write about this song again. But I will hear it, feel it, like it.