Hello again! I’m back after a little hiatus in which I went to Brazil (!!!), got sick, and started a new semester of teaching at my college.

I hope you didn’t miss me too much, but if you did, I offer you these adorable coatis as an apology for my longish absence:

 

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(aren’t they the best?)

 

Anyway, moving on to music …

Before I left for Brazil, I was feeling nostalgic for my hometown, Davis, CA  (home of the Moller Skycar, the Toad Tunnel, and more bicycles than people). And when I miss Davis, I listen to Cake. (They’re from Sacramento, not Davis, but close enough – whenever I hear them, I think of the Central Valley.)

In the middle of one Cake listening session, I discovered a song  of theirs I hadn’t heard before, “End of the Movie.” It immediately became my new listening obsession. You should listen it, too, so go Google it or find it on Spotify now.

I like everything about this song. I like the simple instrumentation. I like that it’s horribly pessimistic. I even like that the first “still” is sung a little flat – it makes it sound more personal and real.

But what I like most about this song it is it’s minimalism. It’s only one minute and fifty seconds long, and there are hardly any lyrics, just two short verses and that end with the same 1 – 2 lines. Too often, songs drag on for four or five minutes, including extra verses that don’t add anything new to the song or repeating parts excessively. It’s refreshing to hear a song that doesn’t do this.

And though the song is short and structurally simple, it makes an insightful observation about life.  At first, both verses paint a hopeless picture of life, telling us we should expect to be abandoned, to get old and fall apart, and to be abused and shamed by our enemies. But the line at the end of each verse, “But you still don’t like to leave before the end of the movie,” challenges this pessimistic outlook. I see the movie as a metaphor for life, so to me, the song is saying that no matter how hopeless life seems, we still want to keep living.

And I love that there’s no further explanation after that line. The listener is left to wonder what it is that makes us keep living in the face of inevitable suffering. Maybe it’s hope for a happy ending, or a sense of duty, or just insatiable curiosity. Or maybe it’s that even though life is painful and depressing, we still see beauty in it that makes it worth living. Whatever the reason, something’s making us stick around until the end.

(And I got all that from a 1:50 minute song!)

 

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