The end of an earthly journey

When my friends and I moved in together in September 2016, we went shopping for house stuff – so the place would look “like us”, like we actually could enjoy living here. One of the things we bought was a planting kit with 3 pots and 3 different seeds. So we planted them – we had no clue what they might be – and waited.

Turns out they were mint, basil and parsley. The basil sprouted, then the parsley. The mint never did. We waited for a while – nothing ever happened – and ended up emptying the pot after a few months of nothingness. There is now a bunch of seagull feathers, gathered on a beach in Normandy about 4 years ago, in said pot.

Unfortunately and despite our best efforts – I swear I watered it sometimes – we lost the basil around January, I believe. It was a promising start, but it couldn’t stand the distance. I could already imagine myself making some home-grown homemade pesto; ah this dream is long gone now!

So for the past few months, the parsley has been alone, surviving as well as it could on its lonesome. But I must face the truth, it hasn’t been looking good for our little pot of parsley for a while now. It seems its earthly journey will be ending soon.

I keep watering it, because hope is still alive, unlike all the plants we’ve had in this apartment. I have to confess that the mint and the basil are not the only greeneries that lost their life with us. Probably something wrong with the house…

This week I want to honour those departed plants, I wish they had stayed with us longer; so I gathered, with the help of a friend, 10 songs about death – it’s good to think about the future sometimes – and losing people. I’m leaving you with this playlist while I go take care of the last survivor, our dear little parsley.

To the ones who have fallen, their name liveth for evermore.
Unidentified Tiny Pink Flowers
Succulent 2

Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads (Little Creatures, 1985)

This classic song sounded fairly happy to me up until I sang the lyrics and it hit me, the road to nowhere is life. David Byrne – the songwriter here and guitarist and singer of Talking Heads – said he tried to write a song that presented “a joyful look at doom”.

Born To Die – Lana Del Rey (Born To Die, 2012)

Lana obviously did not take the “joyful” approach; I think that’s why I loved it from the first time I heard it. I too, like Lana, sometimes wonders about the meaning of life – the most convincing answer I got so far is still 42.

Casimir Pulaski Day – Sufjan Stevens (Illinois, 2005)

Casimir Pulaski Day is a holiday observed in Chicago, it is on the first Monday of March. In this song, Sufjan – pronounced something along the line of Sufyan, I think … – talks about losing a friend on Casimir Pulaski Day. If not yet a fan of Sufjan but already into folk, his albums Illinois and Michigan are worth checking out. The other ones are too, but those 2 will already keep you busy for 2 hours and a half, so that’s a good starter.

Can You See Me – Adam Green (Garfield, 2002)

This is one of my favourite songs and another folky one – I am quite partial to nonsensical folk. The first part sounds like some story you’d make up only when you’re not quite sober anymore; I think it’s a pretty way of talking about how he doesn’t know what to do with himself in this world. He also talks about his fear of dying and “to never make a sound”.

Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, 2002)

This is probably the happiest song about death ever written. It’s as colourful and unique as The Flaming Lips. If you enjoy grown-ups dressed as bunnies and/or pigs, dancing ladies, elephants, and Mark Ruffalo-ish-looking singing men, I strongly recommend you watch the video for this song.

Mr Peterson – Perfume Genius (Learning, 2010)

Perfume Genius – real name Mike Hadreas – recalls Mr Peterson who let him smoke weed in his car and killed himself when young Perfume was 16. He says Mr Peterson was a teacher he had in high school, which makes the song not only sad but slightly creepy too.

Seasons in The Sun – Terry Jacks (Seasons in The Sun, 1973)

This song is some sort of English version of Jacques Brel’s Le Moribond. The character in the song – Terry Jacks is still alive – says goodbye – forever – to his childhood friend and confesses that it is hard to die in spring when the sun is shining and everything is so beautiful.

The One You Really Love – The Magnetic Fields (69 Love Songs, 1999)

69 Love Songs is a triple album that actually has 69 love songs – the first 23 are particularly good. In The One You Really Love, we’re looking at the thorny – probably not the most relatable – issue of love triangles in which one of the protagonists is dead.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – She & Him (Volume One, 2008)

She & Him – that’s Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward – cover this traditional song that I never realised was about death until my friend pointed it out. My mother plays it on her guitar sometimes, so I still can’t find this song sad.

Real Death – Mount Eerie (A Crowd Looked At Me, 2017)

Phil Elverum – aka Mount Eerie and writer of this song – lost his wife in 2016. He reminds us that death is more than just a poetic device we can use when we make art. He’s telling us about receiving mail that was addressed to his wife after she died. It must be such a surreal experience to get something that was meant for someone who does not exist anymore.

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