some of darnielle's best songs are about moments of horror without revelation: "nine black poppies," "the young thousands"--songs that lurk behind corners, panting, pulsing; their climaxes are only to tell you that SOMETHING IS COMING, not that it's here. easier to stay on the edge of the seat that way.
oddly, when the revelations come, there's almost always no tension at all. "the window song" and "going to ultrecht" are about waking up and seeing a face you hadn't seen in a while. in the former, they're at your window; in the latter, in a completely different country. in both cases, you crumble. i had a recurring dream that i would be writing at a desk, i would turn around, and that a she--usually one particular she--would be standing in the doorway. this dream came true on several occasions.
the dream was--like in these songs--almost always better than the reality: in "the window song," the trembling comes hard and fast: "i know you, you're the one i spent three seasons trying to pretend that i never knew," trying to, i dunno, make the line come true again by saying it over and over (i too have tried to beat people out of my own brain in mantric style, it made me feel dumb).
in "ultrecht" it's pure astonishment. i've been given to the idea of PEOPLE AS PLACES lately, what with all my notions about moving and how and why. if there's an inkling to terror in "ultrecht" it's a kind of metaphysical plate tectonics. worlds colliding, and what to do? "i saw you sleeping over there, and i couldn't believe it, i couldn't believe it, not if i saw it with my own eyes," which is basically all he's cursed to see it with. and in the morning, hardly a sugar or protein replaced in his body--what cruelty! so, of course, he did what i did: he stands there, spinning, hoping it's not happening, knowing it is, knowing that it's going to make a much better song than an experience (because songs don't often make you puke). in both cases, he vamps at the end, standing in uncertainty, strum after strum, dumb as wood.
working thesis: darnielle as master of light-headed emotional terror.
this post is dedicated to tomorrow, which, in terms of memory, will suck much harder than today, believe you me.