Deep Blue

The most powerful films I’ve seen leave me rapt in attention to the music at the ending credits… often wishing the film just wouldn’t end. In my imagination, I’ve pretended that some of my most favourite songs were the ending themes to movies. I mentioned in my post on Dire Straits’ song “Sultans of Swing” that it always struck me as such a theme song. 

The last of 16 tracks of the album I’ve just spent the previous seven days presenting to you, “The Suburbs (Continued),” forms what I think is a brief theatrical epilogue to the work, repeating an earlier theme of “wasted hours,” and fades to lyrics from the first track, “The Suburbs.”

For me, the real ending theme for The Suburbs is the 12th track, “Deep Blue.” It is the most emotive on the album for me as it brings up a memory of New Year’s Eve 2000-2001 when Sweety and I, along with friends we were visiting, stood watching the final sunset of the century pass down the horizon of the vast and frozen Boundary Waters where in the spring, summer and fall, Ontario, Canada’s famous Lake of the Woods laps on the shores of Minnesota in the USA. (And sure, we can debate that 1999-2000 vs. 2000-2001 signified the end of the century, but, hey… I’m taking some licence here.)

In that time, after many challenging years, my personal life was in a better place, and I was early into what was becoming a successful second career, in disaster management. But I remember wondering in that sundown moment, what would the future bring? There was already some anticipatory grief as my dad was quite ill (and as it turned out, died very quickly, that January):

“Here
In my place and time
And here in my own skin
I can finally begin
Let the century pass me by
Standing under night sky
Tomorrow means nothing”

In the context of the notion of a theatrical, rock opera The Suburbs, the song is pivotal as the line, “Tomorrow means nothing,” can mean a number of things (and did, to me, in a way I would much rather I had not experienced) but is also almost dismissive of the conflict that rages throughout the album. Perhaps it’s a reminder that the starry, nighttime sky — the canvas of safety under which the two lovers kiss in the nearest park in “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” — is symbolic of the only constant: the way billions of years of time have passed over the horizon. We have no control over time, and often very little influence over our destinies. In the end, all that matters is that we have faith about matters often unseen… like that kiss in the dark. 

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here are the lyrics to the song… I think they’re a magnificent and crucial part of this “closing” piece:

“Here
In my place and time
And here in my own skin
I can finally begin
Let the century pass me by
Standing under night sky
Tomorrow means nothing

I was only a child then
Feeling barely alive when
I heard a song from the speaker of a passing car
And prayed to a dying star
The memory’s fading
I can almost remember singing
La la, la la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la

We watched the end of the century
Compressed on a tiny screen
A dead star collapsing and we could see
That something was ending
Are you through pretending
We saw the signs in the suburbs?

You could never predict it
That it could see through you
Kasparov – Deep Blue 1996
Your mind’s playing tricks now
Show is over so take a bow
We’re living in the shadows of…
La la, la la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la

La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la

Hey
Put the cellphone down for a while
In the night there is something wild
Can you hear it breathing?
And hey
Put the laptop down for a while
In the night there is something wild
I feel it, it’s leaving me

La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la
La la, la la, la la la la”

(“Deep Blue,” by Regine Chassagne, Will Butler, Jeremy Gara, Timothy Kingsbury, Richard Parry, Win Butler) 

And, this is the official audio for the song from Arcade Fire’s YouTube channel. Please remember to click on “thumbs-up” on the video if you appreciated the artists’ work.

Since we’ve heard only some of the album’s sixteen tracks over these eight days, here is the playlist for the full album. I hope you like it enough to buy it. I am very happy I did.

Edit: Before posting, I had meant to look up the reference in the lyrics to “Kasparov – Deep Blue 1996” — I didn’t at first remember the story from the time, that Deep Blue was an IBM supercomputer built to beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. The machine won the first game, but Kasparov won the match. The computer won the second match in 1997. I think Arcade Fire are saying something about the danger of our reliance on computers as they later sing, “Hey / Put the cellphone down for a while…” and then “Hey / Put the laptop down for a while…” There are many hazards out there in the world. Best to ride your bike to a park, and kiss in the dark.

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