“Winter dies the same way every spring.”

The Weakerthans, “Elegy for Elsabet” (lyrics at youtube link)

The song is about a girl who committed suicide. The lines immediately following the above quote:

As the sky tries on its uniform of turned off t.v. gray,
and the ways we watched her watch us walk away,
let every rain clatter down at groaning streets…

Ario once talked about how German skies were like a screen at the cinema. You could look at them and project whatever you thought there. Going back to the song, we get plenty of indications the world has been abandoned by Betta. “Horsey bray,” “grasses’ swish,” “backlanes,” “footsteps… [that] talk to echoed walls,” “wind:” this is horizontal motion with no definite mover. There is a tension between that and more “vertical” sounds – thunder, crickets, traffic as a whole – resolved by sounds consecrating our whispering words to each other, to her.

Something exists that could be more positive. Maybe it is natural. It seems like the speaker and the audience will build hope from there. The problem is Betta never saw it as positive, and her death is pointing to whatever “it” is. Life can be depressingly bleak. We’re all going to die. People kill each other for pennies. Until you scream, no one cares, and even then. The only response to her projection is twofold: 1) time, which in our limited experience has cycles of rebirth 2) actual, human concern. The tv should be off, the traffic shouldn’t tie us down. Whatever has to be said must be said now.

Leave a Comment