Sam & Diane / How Many Years - Brother Moses
I just love it when artists write stories between songs that I can snoop into. SPOILERS: Cheers?
Brother Moses is a band that even people I know who are “into” more obscure music don’t really know. I find it surprising because they have a funky, appealing and catchy sound. This all together makes them my go-to music recommendation.
I also resonate a lot with some of the topics of their music, and just about every song on their album Desperation Pop. Not only have I been in a long-term, long-distance relationship (and not a “we see each other during the holidays and summer”, a true-to-god, constant long-distance situation that involved a lot of plane rides). Even the other songs in the album, which touch on trying to be supportive of a severely depressed significant other, trying to forgive someone who hurt you. This is one of my top albums, but here I’m just going to touch on two songs from this album: Sam & Diane, and How Many Years? These songs bookend this album, and while I don’t think the whole album is about this relationship…I would be surprised if a member wasn’t actively struggling with this relationship during the writing of this album.
“All at once I’m feeling giddiness, fear, euphoria, relief… I don’t know what to say!”
“That’s ok, I’m not listening anymore.”
Tried to sleep with the TV on
But it was the one that I can’t turn off
Sam and Diane get together again
But they part in the end
I hate that ending.
“Then it’s summer again
I wonder which part of the globe
Is getting over you
I’m doing my best back at home
I wonder if you know
I sleep chained up to the phone
Then you’re home again
And I don’t even lock the door anymore
You can come and go as you please
And we’ll keep up the dance
Til your mother needs you home for Christmas
Yeah, I’ll see you in the springtime.”
The first song on the album is Sam and Diane. This song hinges on a Cheers reference, where there is a long distance couple dramatically reunites – only to eventually split up. Being that this song takes place in the context of a currently evolving long distance relationship, this prelude speaks more to the possibility of what might happen – that maybe all of this time and waiting apart will be for naught. The rest of the sound makes this relationship sound less like a relationship, and more like a touch-and-go acquaintance, something that is borne out of convenience.
But more than anything, I love the chorus of this song, and at one point deeply resonated with it. It also reflected the sentiments displayed in the beginning with the Cheers quote. That this might all be for nothing, and that this is beginning to feel like time that was wasted. The flippant energy of these lines adds some excitement to the song – the reasoning that this is unreasonable, this is useless, but it doesn’t matter because it’s fun and they are young.
At the end of the song, they repeat the same dismissive line again and again. It’s hard to know exactly what the artist means by this line, but I feel like it relates back to the chorus. That the artist is tired of asking this question, and just wants to continue this dance.
“I don’t think this is how love works
But we’re beautiful and young
So we can let a little time go
I think that if we’re meant to die together
And we can’t see it now
We might never see it, ever.”
“I feel kinda over it
If we’re gonna die together then I don’t wanna know.”
“Come and meet me at my old apartment
Boxes on the floor
I’ve been waiting all night for you
Come on I’ve been waiting all night for you
I know you don’t believe me
But this is where I saw you for the first time
And that was when I knew
I’d been waiting all my life for you”
There’s a lot less to dissect in the last song on this album, How Many Years? Really, this a deeply emotional song to the point were I don’t even particularly enjoy listening to it. It’s sad, and I really just get the feeling that this is a real struggle the artist went through. It paints an almost comically rom-com picture of chasing your love to the airport, but it’s punctuated with desperation.
The increased speed accurately reflects the tone of chasing a plane, and accusing your lover of leaving you behind. And really, it just gets sadder after that. The writer proclaims he can’t live without this person, desperately trying to convince her and himself that he could figure out a way to join her.
Halfway through, the song slows down again. He drones out a long and depressing verse. But halfway through this verse, as he’s describing meeting this woman, his desperation grows again as he remembers his feelings. It almost feels like a rapid roll through the stages of grief, except this roll ends on anger.
“I can’t live in this city without you
I wouldn’t know where to go to escape
I can’t sleep in that bed without you
I can’t move through each boring day
I’ve been thinking about how our days are numbered.”
“You were a dream
That I’d hold onto
Wake up sweating out a lot of the pain
I wanted to live but I couldn’t find a way.”
“There’s only so many years that we get with each other
How many of those do you think we’ve got left?
There’s only so many years that we get with each other
How many of those do you think we’ve got left?”
Something that I find unpleasant but moving at the same time is Brother Moses’s tendency for incredibly emotional, full-chested yell-singing (See ACHE). I call it unpleasant because of the manner in which it strikes sympathy from me – something I don’t really enjoy during casual listening.
And even in the lyrics that end this song, and this whole album, they tie the themes back with their first song. This is another sentiment about LDR’s that strikes deep – that perhaps this is all for nothing, and that they’re going through all this pain for something that may inevitably end in even more pain. This is punctuated with an intense guitar solo that quickly fades out to end the album.
In all, this is really an appreciation post about two songs that I feel beautifully bookend an album that I’m fond of. This post was originally going to be about making this case for the whole album being about a long distance relationship. But really, it wasn’t. It was a collection of other experiences that were shadowed by this perpetually heartbreak that the artist was going through. So, I will say that while I can’t make the case that every song was “about” this specific relationship, I would really dare anyone to say that an album that was put between these two songs didn’t have strong influences from that emotional point in someone’s life.
“How many times do I get to come home to you
How many nights with your head on my chest
I want to shake myself by the shoulders
Scream in my face till I run out of breath
Sayin how many years do you think we’ve got left?””