There comes a point in every blogger's life when megalomania takes over. They post incessantly (often writing in the third person), people oblige by reading what they post, and they then become convinced that people will be interested in everything they have to say. For me, that moment has just arrived: I have seen fit to share with you some of my philosophical responses to popular music.
One of my favourite musicians and lyricists is Neil Hannon, he of the Northern Irish band the Divine Comedy. As is explained in the wikipedia article, Hannon is the one fixed star in the firmament of that band. Thus, to speak of one is to speak of the other.
Mr. Hannon is notable for his snappy dressing, penchant for irony and unique ability to craft a tune. Aurally, the Divine Comedy are difficult to pigeonhole. They mix classical instrumentation with pop melodies, often to great effect. Lyrically, Hannon has a gift for bringing clever wordplay and irony to bear on weighty, yet life-affirming themes.
Promenade is probably his magnus opus. A simple concept-album that revels in the petty, yet pivotal details of human life. Nowhere else will you find songs about the glories of western literature (complete with literary in-jokes), French art-house cinema and atheism, playing alongside meditations on seafood and drunkenness. It is, quite simply, a delightful affirmation of all that it means to be human.
In fact, I like it so much that I've decided to dedicate an entire series of posts to it. I will look at each song and provide philosophical reflections on their lyrical content. This, of course, limits my purview greatly since this is music not poetry. To make up for this I'll try to provide links to performances that are available online when possible. But, of course, I recommend you actually support musicians of this nature by purchasing their work. You can download Promenade through the Divine Comedy's webpage (link is below). It is reasonably priced.
Like my series on Shakespeare's comedies, these reflections will be my own take on things. My hope is that the series will of interest to fans of the band and will also encourage those of you have not heard of them to give them a listen.
Index to the Series
2. Going Downhill Fast
3. The Booklovers
4. A Seafood Song
6. Don't Look Down
7. When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe
8. The Summerhouse
9. Neptune's Daughter
10. A Drinking Song
11. Ten Seconds to Midnight
12. Tonight We Fly
A Short Site about the Divine Comedy (best web resource).