Reflections: Calamity Song

I’m not a huge fan of music videos. With few exceptions that I’ve seen, they’re frequently just poorly-done and weird, seemingly having little to do with the song being sung. Maybe that’s part of my growing up before MTV’s “Video Killed the Radio Star” — since my own soundtrack was sung by those radio stars.

Not only was my soundtrack sung on the radio, but I also grew up in fear of nuclear annihilation during the age of the duck-and-cover drill (which even little kids knew was a ridiculous and futile exercise). It seems like we don’t think much about this particular route to the end-of-the-world any more; there are too many other paths that lead to the same destination.

But then this morning I read NPR’s introduction to and subsequently watched the embedded video of The Decemberists’ “Calamity Song.” Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, it’s well worth a watch. And a listen. And a think.

Even if we’re beyond the immediate threat of the Cold War and the fingers poised over The Button, there are still far too many ways in which the result of human behavior is bleak, leading up to a time “’til all that remains is the arms of the angel.”

Calamity Song
(Colin Meloy – The Decemberists)

Had a dream
You and me and the war of the end times
And I believe
California succumbed to the fault line
We heaved relief
As scores of innocents died

And the Andalusian tribes
Setting the lay of Nebraska alight
‘Til all that remains is the arms of the angel

Petty greed
Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab
You know what I mean
On the road
It’s well advised that you follow your own bag
In the year of the chewable Ambien tab

And the Panamanian child
Stands at the Dowager Empress’s side
And all that remains is the arms of the angel
And all that remains is the arms of the angels

And you’ve receded into loam
And they’re picking at your bones
Will call cold
We’ll come home

Quiet now
Will we gather to conjure the rain down?
Will we now
Build a civilization below ground?
And I’ll be crowned the community kick-it-around

And the Andalusian tribes
Setting the lay of Nebraska alight
‘Til all that remains is the arms of the angels
‘Til all that remains is the arms of the angels

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One Comment on “Reflections: Calamity Song”


  1. “Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab”

    Genius.


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