Monday, September 28, 2015

Beth’s Music Moment: Duran Duran’s “The Universe Alone”

Since the past couple of days consisted partly of packing for our upcoming trip to San Francisco to see Duran Duran play live (as well as visiting a good friend) and watching my niece Jen’s videos of when she saw them last night in San Diego, this is a good time to write a little more about one of the songs on their new album, Paper Gods.

“The Universe Alone” is the last track on the regular version, and what a way to close out the album! Every so often, a song really hits me and just tears me up inside. This is one of those songs. I honestly can’t say that it is my favorite song on the album; I haven’t been able to choose a definitive favorite and I like them all for different reasons. But the more I listen to this song, the more it hits me right in the feels.

As some of you know, when it comes to reading, I’ve been on a bit of an apocalypse and post-apocalypse kick. Not exactly happy stuff, but I find it compelling and fascinating. As with my love for The Walking Dead, I wonder how various people would deal with the end of the world. Does it bring out the best or the worst in a person (or in me)? Who will accept their fate with grace and dignity and who will feel hopelessness and despair? Who will check out early and who will face it head on? I find it a fascinating thing to ponder, and I don’t necessarily find it depressing. Just interesting. This song reminds me so much of the book and movie On the Beach, which just devastated me. A definite sense of despair and a winding down, but still joy in living and loving.

Anyway, that’s what this song is about, at least to me. It’s possible that Simon and the rest of the band meant something entirely different with their lyrics. It could conceivably be about an individual facing imminent death, and that also makes sense to me. But I hear the “dying sun” and it’s all about the end of the world to me.

As I listen to the song (I’m not obsessively listening to it...just as I play the entire album), it occurs to me that although plenty of people pretend to know what happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil, no one knows for sure. Even if our loved ones are by our side, holding our hand, we go off into the great beyond all on our own. We “face the universe alone.” This doesn’t make me sad; it’s just the way it is and it is every bit a part of life as the actual living part of it is.

Simon sings, “It’s beautiful, the dying sun...the end of everything and everyone.” His vocals are poignant and heart-wrenching to me, and the words indicate an acceptance of our fate and still being able to see the beauty, even in a sun that is dying, or of a life lived. He also sings, “In plain view the mistakes we’ve made, but is there anything you’d really want to change?” I’m sure we’d all like to change some things in our past, but would we really? It’s all part of our life experience, isn’t it? Both good and bad. It’s our journey and it is up to us to make the most of it, knowing that we will make mistakes along the way. And maybe, just maybe, we can exit knowing that we lived our life, enjoyed ourselves, and perhaps even made things a little brighter for a few people along the way.

When you look at it that way, I find the concept of facing the universe alone not as scary. It’s going to happen to all of us eventually, right?

The song ends with a gradual descent into feedback and distortion, this lovely song devolving into chaos. Some sort of explosion? A gradual loss of consciousness? “On the other side of what we’ll never know.” We end the song with a lovely choir, perhaps indicating a sense of grace found.

Yes, I really do pay attention to lyrics and I really do ponder things like this. I am often very moved by lyrics and songs, and this one really gets to me. Lyrics and video below.

See you in the universe, fellow travelers. But hopefully not for a while yet!

It's beautiful, the dying sun
The end of everything and everyone
So shall we make a clan my friend
As if we have the chance to live it all again

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

In plain view, the mistakes we've made
But is there anything you'd really want to change?
To win and lose then win again
To have it all then throw it all away

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

How beautiful the closing down
The fading out, it spins and goes around
With darkness and the heart of man
And here we are back where it all began

I'll see you in some other lifetime
The universe alone
The universe alone
The universe alone

1 comment:

  1. ...the mood of this post brings back a George Carlin bit about religion and the end of the world...


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