Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From The Archive: Play "Beyond The Sea" At My Wake

Some of you may not be aware that this blog is a resuscitation of the old "History Lesson, Pt. 2" blog.  It had the same mission as this one and ended up being such a lark that I couldn't resist starting it back up again a couple years after I shut it down.  Here is an entry that first appeared at the original incarnation of the blog on 4 December 2007.  Wonder why I was thinking of warm weather and beaches then?

It's kinda cool when you hear a song differently after having heard it a million times before. This happened to me in 1997 when my friend Dylan sent me a Pete Townshend's greatest hits-type album. In the sleeve notes, Townshend writes of the song "Let My Love Open The Door":
"This was a song about love, but this actually about divine love. It's supposed to be about the power of God's love, that when you're in difficulty, whether it's major or minor, God's love is always there for you. But I suppose, because I used the royal "we" - I sang with God's voice - it became a song about , you know, "Hey girl, I'll give you a good time, if you're feeling blue, come over to my place, and we'll catch a movie. . . "

Reading that little insight really enhanced my enjoyment of a song I already loved.

I became hipped to Bobby Darrin's "Beyond The Sea" around 1999. Since then, it has become one of my favorite songs in any genre by any artist. That song swings. Big time. It's usually a song that gets heavy rotation at our house starting in the springtime because for me, it conjures up images of beaches and warm weather.

But while commuting to work about two days ago, I heard it differently - it occurred to me that the lyrics for that song would be perfect for a wake. Townshend states that most people misinterpreted "Let My Love Open The Door" - well, I'm intentionally misinterpreting "Beyond The Sea". Think about it: it can be a nice little metaphor for ascent into heaven and being reunited with one you love. It's a journey to a happy destination, you know what I'm sayin'? Read the lyrics - you'll see what I'm talking about.

The song would have to be played at my wake (Editorial note:  "showing" is probably a more up-to-date term for this.) as my chosen faith is not known for it's noisy, song filled celebrations. And realistically, I don't care what happens to me after death - it's cool if I'm placed in a burlap sack and thrown in a hole in the ground, frankly. Usually I don't get much comfort out of thinking about death and its associated rituals, but playing "Beyond The Sea" is, oddly enough, the exception. And perhaps even weirder, thinking of people sipping cocktails and listening to "Beyond The Sea" has made that song even more enjoyable for me.

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