Re-Post: A Movie Script Ending

I’m sitting here listening to the rain hit my office windows at home, and listening to Death Cab for Cutie, as I often do on rainy days when I’m working. It reminded me of this post I wrote a long time ago, four years ago to be exact. It inspired me to share again, so, here it is!

“A Movie Script Ending”

I’ve always had somewhat of a poetic, love affair with Death Cab for Cutie. The band’s songs always seem to find their way to my ears and heart at the perfect moment.  I remember certain events (some important, some not as important) in my life whenever I hear certain songs of theirs.  If compiled onto a disc, each song would be like a soundtrack to my young adult life–and wouldn’t it be so awesome to have your own soundtrack?  I think so.

Not only is the music itself amazing, but every single song tells a unique and poetic story.  Also, any band that uses metaphor and creates lyrics that make you think and some that are based on literature is top-notch in my book.  Entertainment weekly claimed Ben Gibbard’s lyrics and musical style encompass a, “sweet voice and borderline-maudlin poetics with a sense of emotional danger.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.  So, I didn’t.

It started my freshman year of college, where, at the time, I felt as though I was a little late coming into the DCFC fan base. Since by the time I had heard of them, they were working on releasing a fifth album.

Hey, I grew up in Stockbridge, Georgia, where if you didn’t listen to country music, you listed to bands like Nickelback, Creed and Three Doors Down. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess—you like what you like, but  cut me some slack?

Now, with three more albums released after I became a fan, I feel like one of the oldies. However, unlike a lot of the “oldies” I do not think they sold out, just because they became “mainstream,” their music changed a bit (yeah, it became fuller and more melodic, oh no!) and more people have heard of them.  I’m glad they’re so popular, if only because their music can touch more individuals, hopefully as much as they’ve touched me.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a DCFC song.

I was on my way home to visit my parents for the first time since moving away to college one weekend and I popped in a “mix CD” (remember those?) that a new friend of mine made for me and the first song on the disc was, “A Movie Script Ending.”

This was a song, in my opinion, about going back to your old hometown and realizing nothing has changed, except for you.  You’re a little different and you realize you’ve moved on.  That’s the fun thing about great music and lyrics—if done well, it reaches a vast audience and not a single person will have the same point of view because it seems to have a multitude of different meanings.

As the guitar chords wafted through my speakers, I accelerated to get onto the highway and the chills and goose bumps shot up and down my arms when the words reached my ears:

“Whenever I come back
The air on Railroad is making the same sounds
And the shop fronts on Holly are dirty words
(Asterisks in for the vowels)
We peered through the windows
New bottoms on barstools
But the people remain the same
With prices inflating, inflating

As if saved from the gallows
There’s a bellow of buzzers
And the people stop working
And they’re all so excited, excited

Passing through unconscious states
When I awoke I was on the highway
Highway, highway, highway…”

I turned it up even louder—so loud my speakers were reverberating—but it still didn’t seem loud enough.  I had to have more of this person’s voice filling my ears, filling my head—my soul.

His voice was almost haunting in a way, but it was so beautifully simple.  Not overdone, not over the top.  Just like the guitar chords.

The more I listened, the more I felt like this song was written for me for this exact moment.  I know it wasn’t, but, there’s something almost surreal and supernatural about listening to music.  Another great thing about good music, it makes you feel like the artist is singing directly to you if it’s the right song, at the exact right moment.  I could be overly sensitive, but I feel this happens to me quite often.

From that moment on, I was hooked on Death Cab for Cutie and Ben Gibbard. I downloaded (sorry) every song I could find and with what little money I had, bought as many of their albums as I could afford at the time.

This was when I discovered “A Lack of Color.”

A new (at the time) good friend of mine at college had just experienced a pretty bad break-up.  He was a freshman and I, a sophomore so, of course, I felt like I had to “show him the ropes” a bit, plus, he was a really sweet kid.  He was a “metal-head,” and he reminded me of myself when I was in high school.  Yes, I used to listen to bands like Atreyu, As I Lay Dying, Meshuggah and a band called Cannibal Corpse…

Hey, I think I was a pretty angsty teenager.  Plus, Tool (though I wouldn’t consider them “metal”) are still to this day, one of my favorite bands.  I have the “third-eye” tattooed on my body to prove it.

Don’t tell my Dad.

I digress.

So, this friend needed some serious help and someone to talk to.  Whenever I’m having a rough day or need to think things through, I always throw on some tunes.  I have different genres of music and artists that I have categorized for certain days, moods, etc.  I realize this may make me seem a bit neurotic, but that’s okay. I decided to burn a mix CD for my sad friend, and “A Lack of Color” was track 1.

“This is fact, not fiction
For the first time in years
All the girls in every girlie magazine
Can’t make me feel any less alone
I’m reaching for the phone

To call at 7:03
And on your machine, I slur a plea
For you to come home
But I know it’s too late
I should have given you a reason to stay
Given you a reason to stay…”

I made this on a whim, knowing he probably wouldn’t like it very much (since there was no grunting, growling, screaming, etc.) but I hoped at least the gesture would make him feel better.

He instant messaged me (remember that too? Man, I feel old school right now talking about mix CDs and instant messaging) and said he listened to ” A Lack of Color” on repeat for the last hour and it truly was making him feel better–making him feel less alone.

It was comforting to hear someone else going through the pain of heartbreak and makes you realize, people go through this kind of stuff every day.

I went over and hung out with him in his dorm room, just talking and listening to the gentle strumming of the guitar chords coming from his CD player, which was still playing “A Lack of Color.”  Even after hearing it approximately 500 times in a row, I didn’t get sick of it, and neither did he. That’s another fond memory of mine that I’ll never forget. In the dimly lit, hazy dorm room (I think his friend liked a certain green plant) we talked a lot about life, about love and about soul mates, or, lack thereof at that moment–for him at least.  Or so I thought.

Which leads me to “Title and Registration.”

After being in a relationship with my high school sweetheart for six years, he dumped me my senior year of college. In my car. After I picked him up from the airport.  On the interstate. Randomly.

The next day, as I was driving to my Dad’s house to recuperate, I listened to two songs repeatedly.  One was “My Parents’ House” by Hayden, the other was “Title and Registration.”

This particular Hayden song is so morose, so soulful, so depressing…that it was making me want to drive my car into the metal barrier and end my life right then. So, I decided to listen to Death Cab–though “Title and Registration’s” lyrical content is depressing, it still seems somewhat hopeful and the upbeat tempo made my heart feel a little bit lighter with each pluck of each guitar string.

“The glove compartment is inaccurately named
And everybody knows it
So I’m proposing a swift orderly change

Because behind it’s door
There’s nothing to keep my fingers warm
And all I find are souvenirs from better times
Before the gleam of your taillights fading east
To find yourself a better life…

…There’s no blame for how our love did slowly fade
And now that it’s gone, it’s like it wasn’t there at all
And here I rest where disappointment and regret collide
Lying awake at night…”

I thought I would never get over that.  But, obviously, I did–and am extremely better off for doing so. I found my soul mate.

I Will Possess Your Heart” would definitely be the song that described G.’s and my relationship at the beginning.  I was still a bit shaken and not willing to trust when I met him. I even told him I just “wanted to be friends” when he asked to be in a relationship with me “officially.” But, as he always loves to tell people, he was persistent. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t going to give up.  So he kept calling me up, kept making plans to see me, and generally was by my side every single day.

And he has been ever since.

I remember listening to “I Will Possess Your Heart” on Narrow Stairs, on my way to work during this time and this particular lyric really caught my attention:

“How I wish you could see the potential
The potential of you and me
It’s like a book elegantly bound
But in a language you can’t read just yet

You got to spend some time, love
You got to spend some time with me
And I know that you’ll find love
I will possess your heart…”

That night after work, outside on the steps of Caribou Coffee with G., I told him I wanted to make it official.  I was ready.  I could see the potential and I was starting to “read the language” so to speak.

Which brings me to August 11th, 2011–last Thursday, depending on when you’re reading this.

I have always wanted to see Death Cab live, ever since that day in my car almost eight years ago.  I saw on Twitter of all places, their show in Alpharetta wasn’t sold out like I had previously thought.  I immediately texted G. at work and told him where we were going that evening and put the tickets on my credit card.

I originally thought our tickets were for the lawn, aka, way in the very back, not even under the awning. I didn’t care.  I was there and would still be able to experience hearing them live and that’s all that mattered.

When we arrived, however, I realized the tickets said “Orchestra/Standing.”

We were right up at the stage.

Feet away from Ben Gibbard.

I squealed like a teenaged girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

G. took it all in stride, grinned at me and squeezed my hand.  “Well, how about that,” he said

He truly was a wonderful sport, as he is definitely still a “metal-head.”  He knew how important this was to me and he didn’t complain one bit.  Hell, he even danced with me a little during the more upbeat tunes and another tune, in particular.

When Death Cab played “Stay Young, Go Dancing” in their encore, G. wrapped his arms around me from behind and we danced.  This song is one of the most upbeat and happiest endings to any of their albums, in my opinion. I began to feel like I’m finally getting my happy ending to my soundtrack when (even though we were both utterly disgusting and sweaty), G. gave me a big kiss as the lights flashed and the other concert attendees voices echoed the lyrics right along with Ben Gibbard.  I’ll never forget that moment either.

“Life is sweet
In the belly of the beast
In the belly of the beast,
And with her song in your heart
It can never bring you down
It can never bring you down

Lost in a maze
Of a thousand rainy days
Of a thousand rainy days
But when I heard her voice
Oh it led me to the end
(Oh, it led me to the end)
Yes it led me to the end

‘Cause when she sings I hear a symphony
And I’m swallowed in sound as it echoes through me
I’m renewed, oh how I feel like
Though autumn’s advancing, we’ll stay young, go dancing

As the music plays
Feel our bodies sway
When we move as one
We stay young
(Go dancing)

Life is sweet
In the belly of the beast
In the belly of the beast
And when with her song in your heart
Oh it can never bring you down
It can never bring you down

‘Cause when she sings I hear a symphony
And I’m swallowed in sound as it echoes through me
I’m renewed, oh how I feel like
Through Winter’s advancing, we’ll stay young go dancing
Stay young go dancing
Stay young go dancing…”

Yup. Definitely going on my soundtrack.


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