A little while ago I decided to look at the play count on my iPod and iTunes. As it turns out, there is one song over the last year that I have listened to more than any other song (and in some cases, more than most songs combined). That song is “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” by Death Cab for Cutie.
I love that song. Everything about it is perfect (except for the fact that it ends). The production is flawless; from the main piano line that is doubled by an electric piano (I think), to the noisy piano chaos that is hidden deep in the mix at the beginning of the track. I love the melody, I love the groove, I love the richness of the mix, I love how there is so much space in between phrases, where the chord just hangs in the air until the next phrase begins. I love the nuance of the acoustic guitar coming in halfway through the second verse. I love how every note and every sound feels so intentional and that not a single moment is taken for granted.
I love the lyrics. I love the devastating humor in the simile, “brothers on a hotel bed”, because at once you get the endearing image of brothers forced to share a bed, awkwardly and self-consciously trying to keep to their own sides, and tragic picture of lovers distanced by fear and time. It’s almost absurd how perfectly the music and lyrics together capture that sense of heartache and insecurity.
I found it interesting that this song, more than any other song, made its way to the top of my most listened songs. I had to ask myself “why?”.
I think the opening verse (and closing line) sums it up best.
“You may tire of me
As our December sun is setting
‘Cause I”m not who I used to be.
No longer easy on the eyes
these wrinkles masterfully disguise
The youthful boy below…”
I find, in my own marriage to Sara, that I live with a constant fear that eventually I will become unlovable; that I will change and that Sara will “tire of me”. You may say it’s ridiculous (she does), but that is the insecurity that lives deep in my heart. Couple that with that little bit of sorrow that goes along with getting older, and the fear that we will end up “one of those couples” who keep to their own sides, and you have a song that taps into almost everyone of my secret fears and heartaches.
It is a song that always meets me where I am at – both on a musical level, and an emotional one. It is a song that always reminds me not to take Sara or our life together for granted. It is a song that has shown me that my heart is more fragile than my cynical exterior would care to betray. It is a song that demonstrates what all art does to some extent; it show us a reflection of ourselves.
So… what does your iTunes/iPod say about you?
P.S. Here is “Brothers On A Hotel Bed” (and a fan video) for your listening pleasure…