Bweinh! Soundtrack — Death Cab for Cutie

April 13, 2007, 8:31 pm; posted by
Filed under Music, Tom  | No Comments

Every weekend, a different Bweinh!tributor will discuss a song or songwriter that inspires or interests them. Read the last two soundtrack entries here and here.

Disclaimer: As a man living in modern American society I can, without taking too many liberties, uninhibitedly offer constructive criticism to the collective members of that elite fraternity.

The most obvious unifying characteristic among most men in our society is a simple one — insecurity. The kid who drives a truck with tires taller than he is and tailgates minivans on the interstate. The middle-manager who throws over his family for an attractive secretary, showing the world he’s “still got it.” The twentysomething who takes perverse pride in the number of girls he can manipulate into falling for him. The business man who’ll stop at nothing to get his piece, just to stay ahead of the Joneses.

Take a look at the advertisers paying for any television programming with a largely male audience. Alcohol, a noted social disinhibitor, playing a large role in the happiness of attractive men, with strong hairlines, frolicking with generously-endowed women in sunny locations. Bobs ranging from Dole to Smilin’, and other pillars of virility, announce that you can get the better of your advanced age, questionable exercise regime and poor dietary habits. And historically, cigarettes — a product designed, on first use, to command some measure of respect from others. These are our birthright as American men in our society.

And this song our anthem.

A lonely, soothing piano intro begins, coaxing us into the melody. The simple theme repeats, gaining momentum and complexity as the strains pour out of the secondhand speakers we’ll replace with those Bose numbers we’ll save up for after we get a new muffler on the Duster. A pause, then a simple, soft, yet strangely driving beat ushers in lead vocalist Ben Gibbard’s revealing first verse’s lyrics.

You may tire of me as our December sun is setting
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be
No longer easy on the eyes; these wrinkles masterfully disguise
The youthful boy below

Who turned your way and saw
Something he was not looking for: both a beginning and an end
But now he lives inside someone he does not recognize
When he catches his reflection on accident

As a man young in years, you may not think these words speak to me in particular. But I am also a fellow referred to by many since my 20th year as “Ol’ Tom,” who styled his hair with a Bic in a pointless race with heredity for a time, six times, and half a time. I feel a strong sense of kinship with the song’s imaginary protagonist.

On the back of a motorbike
With your arms outstretched trying to take flight
Leaving everything behind
But even at our swiftest speed we couldn’t break from the concrete
In the city where we still reside.

And I have learned that even landlocked lovers yearn
For the sea like navy men
‘Cause now we say good night from our own separate sides
Like brothers on a hotel bed

Some of us run from it, into the welcoming arms of Coors, Corvettes, and Cialis. Some fight it with arduous exercise, wheatgrass shakes, and ginkgo biloba. And some embrace it, as I have. I am a man, not Hollywood and Madison Avenue’s version of one, and I proudly take my place among my fellows.

Won’t you join me? We’ll all scoot over; I’m sure there’s room for one more.


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