Summer Music Challenge: Black Sun

I have decided to participate in a Twitter summer music challenge, posting my thoughts on this WordPress instead.

music challenge

Today jump starts the challenge: a song I like with a color in the title. The song I have chosen, although there are so many good songs I know with a color in the title, is Death Cab for Cutie’s “Black Sun.”

“Black Sun” is a track on Death Cab’s 2015 album, Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken materials (such as pottery) with gold, showing that even though the scars of the brokenness prevail, the material will be made even more beautiful for it.

There is whiskey in the water
And there is death upon the vine
There is fear in the eyes of your father
And there is “Yours” and there is “Mine.”
There is a desert veiled in pavement
And there’s a city of seven hills
And all our debris flows to the ocean
To meet again, I hope it will.

How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you?

There is an answer in a question
And there is hope within despair
And there is beauty in a failure,
And there are depths beyond compare.
There is a role of a lifetime
And there’s a song yet to be sung
And there’s a dumpster in the driveway
Of all the plans that came undone.

How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you?
How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you?

There is whiskey in the water
And there is death upon the vine
And there is grace within forgiveness
But it’s so hard for me to find.

How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you?
How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you?

This isn’t the most obscure song out there; you might have heard it on Quantico (and apparently it was on American Idol at some point). So, why am I sharing a song that you might already know?

As you may know, the beauty of art is the freedom of interpretation. If you know the history of Ben Gibbard (lead vocalist), you may have interpreted the lyrics as the story of Gibbard’s divorce from Zooey Deschanel. I believe that may be true. I mean, it definitely makes sense, given that many of the lyrics seem to point to the end of a marriage (i.e. “There is ‘Yours’ and there is ‘Mine'”, “There’s a dumpster in the driveway…”, “There is grace within forgiveness, but it’s so hard for me to find”).

However, I like to interpret the song’s overall message as coming to terms with the end of something; that something may be a marriage, it might be getting laid off from a job, losing a friend, etcetera. It is a song about knowing that you have reached the end, knowing that you cannot turn back anymore. And yet, there is still confusion. There is still a looming emptiness. There is still a desire to experience good times that will never come again. Then there are the questions that haunt. How does something just… end? How do you find the beauty in the failure? How do you rebuild after your plans come undone? How do you learn to forgive those who have wronged you?

And what if there is no person at fault? What if there is no clear right or wrong? What if things just met their natural end? Maybe no one was at fault; maybe it was fair. But how can something so fair be so cruel?

The lyric that breaks my heart the most is: “There is grace within forgiveness, but it’s so hard for me to find.”

This lyric has applied to my life time and time again. I know that holding grudges will only lead to my own demise. I know that I have to let go of whatever negative emotions I’m holding onto if I want to move on. I know that forgiving those who have wronged me in the past will lead me to a better path. However, it is just so hard to forgive. Sometimes, it’s just downright impossible.

Sometimes there is no clear end to the conflict. There is no visible light at the end of the tunnel. Although tragic, it is what makes life beautiful, in a way. There is no certainty, no way to know how the story ends. We’re left with a deceptive cadence, even after we are gone. Sometimes there is no clear higher purpose. Sometimes, life is just cruel.

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