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First Aid

Your Corona-virus Song of the Day. Eighteen.


It’s been just over two years ago that The Decemberists dropped their latest album, I’ll Be Your Girl.  The opening track of that album is arguably the best of the track list.  “Once In My Life” is a song that exudes a sense of self-pity.

“Oh for once in my life
Can just something go right?”

The popular podcast Song Exploder, in which songwriters describe the process of writing a particular one of their songs, did an episode on this song.  In that episode, Colin Meloy tells about how, when those words came to him, he was reluctant to put them in the song, further – make them the cornerstone.

Consulting his wife, he confessed that his hesitancy came from the fact that he had a pretty good life, especially when compared to the plight of so many others.  Did he have the right to put those word into the song?

Perhaps he was seeking her permission, which she bestowed with her answer.  Everyone person’s problems are big to them.  It’s universal.  It speaks to everyone.  It’s okay to allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself every once in a while.

It’s a theme that I’ve touched on in a previous post – it’s okay to feel those feelings as long as we find positive ways to express them.  And this song is just such a vehicle.  Even if your personal situation isn’t tragic, the stess of the pandemic gets to us all.  We must find ways to deal or we’ll crazy.  Music can be one of those ways.

But I would be remiss if I stopped there.   You can’t continue endlessly down that road.  At some point, you need to turn around.  Look around and let it sink in that you do indeed have a pretty good life.

Oddly enough, that same song provides the way to help you out of that funk.

Perhaps fueled by the conflict of feelings, The Decemberists’ video for “Once In My Life” focuses not upon self pity, but upon the troubles of the less fortunate.  As are many music videos, it is a little odd in an artsy sort of way.  But at the same time, it is quite moving and well worth a view or two.

It’s a perfect combination.  A song that allows the listener to immerse in his or her own troubles, and a video to remind her or him that those troubles are small compared to others.

So maybe it’s not so odd that the same song serves both purposes.  Maybe that is what Meloy intended all along:  a reflection of his own journey from self absorption to being mindful of the suffering all around him.

So here’s the song and the video.  Listen to the song as much as you need, but don’t stop there.  When you’ve had enough, watch the video and be reminded.  All may not be right in your world, but it’s not all bad, either.



Listen.  Enjoy.  Stay Well.


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