I’ve been rather behind with my blogging lately. It’s kind of a tough time for my family right now. We’re dealing with the death of a beloved family member for the second time in less than two months, and though both were relatively old, it never gets easier. Tomorrow is the funeral. I’ve been okay as long as I don’t think about it, but I fear that I’ll lose it completely when I enter the funeral parlor. There are some people you’re just never ready to see lying motionless in a box. I’m not really sure how I can help, so I’ve just been listening to a lot of music lately and mulling over things. In honor of my Uncle Bill, today’s song is about losing someone you love: Arcade Fire’s “In The Backseat.”
This fan-made video is simple but provides nice visuals to compliment a song that begins rather simply itself, then crescendos into something brilliant and powerful. The lyrics are open to interpretation, but I’ve always taken away a very distinctive message from it.
I like the peace
In the backseat
I don’t have to drive
I don’t have to speak
I can watch the countryside
And I can fall asleep
My family tree’s
Losing all its leaves
Crashing towards the driver’s seat
The lightning bolt made enough heat
To melt the street beneath your feet
In the night
I’ve been learning to drive
My whole life
I’ve been learning
When you ride in the backseat, you’re a child, or like one: depending on someone else to drive, someone else to make the decisions. You just coast along and enjoy the scenery, never having to worry about car crashes or traffic or anything of the sort. But when you learn to drive, you learn to take responsibility for yourself as well as for anyone else in the car with you. When you are the driver, you have to navigate life and death in a very literal way. I feel that this song references the childlike state of ignorant bliss before you lose someone you love, when you and everyone around you will seemingly live forever. Suddenly, when someone you love dies, death and its aftermath become very real, very quickly. You can’t experience the pain of losing someone and remain that child, sitting innocently in the backseat. You have to become an adult and deal with grief, pain, decisions, and consequences. That’s what this song is about, to me: learning to grow up through loss.
I read that the reason Arcade Fire named this album Funeral was because of the band members losing beloved family members themselves as they were creating it. This song can be melancholy, true, but very beautiful, and especially moving for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. I went through that experience of losing some of my childlike innocence when my grandfather died in 2006, and now that I’m once again attending a family member’s funeral, I find that it never gets any easier. But songs like this help. Knowing that we all go through this at one point or another is a comfort, if a cold one at times.
R.I.P., Uncle Bill. You will be remembered, and you will be missed.