This was another of those songs that stopped me in my tracks when I first discovered GOY. I found their Spotify page and just went in order through each release. So the first time I heard this was shortly after the chaos of “The Good Fight,” the anger (and language!) of “Native Tongue,” the big singalong of “Strange Diseases” and the howling of “A Sudden Light.” All of a sudden comes this quiet, ethereal song intro and then Dave’s deep voice with “Lo and behold…” I’m pretty sure if I was a female, I would’ve ovulated when I first heard that opening line. His voice is so great in this song.
I remember going pretty quickly to the lyrics on Genius.com – as I do often with GOY songs because people (including @SolopsismBaby, I think) have added quotes from Dave or the band about the songs, or other good background facts from various articles and interviews. So I read how this song is Dave singing to his sick wife as she’s dying and was just blown away by the combination of love and defiance in the lyrics.
(Side note: I have a dear friend who was diagnosed in 1997 with a rare form of leukemia and given five years to live. I’m a bit sketchy all these years later on the exact timing of things, but she was due to marry her fiance – but the marriage never happened because of her health. The two of them grew apart and separated. This friend was able to get into some very experimental clinical trials and beat all expectations. She’s still alive today! She and her fiance eventually reconciled and got married a few years ago, but she’s recently had a relapse is again fighting for her life. So the story behind this song also hits me because of the similarities.)
What really gets me in this song are all the “I will” and “I will not” lyrics – such personal and powerful statements of devotion to a dying partner. I picture him at her bedside in a dull hospital room (“ball away like cold, under graceless light” and “pressed to the waking walls”) staring at her as he sings.
I will not lie
I will not loath
I will not waste any days I have left in my soul
But I will stand
I will stand now in your might
I will not crash
I will not burn
But I will pay any debt to your hands that I owe
I will not trade, I will not toil
I will not stray from this bed
I will not stray from this soil
Until my bones, my bones lay with it all
I will not raise forgotten flags
But I will step to the hill with your name in my cap
Aside from his story and the real background of the song, the lyrics also move me because of the issues I had over the past couple years with some form of depression and a sometimes crippling fear of dying. So that entire last verse just nails me right in the feels and has been such a blessing, but especially the last line:
Dance atop the grave that has your name
For what it’s worth, I’ll do the same
I’m choking up right now just looking at that couplet. Incredible. “Dance atop the grave that has your name.” What an image.
Before it got cold here in the TCs, I’d sometimes spend my lunch hour walking around the neighborhood for 30-60 minutes, getting in some exercise. There were several days when I just put this song on repeat for the entire time I was out walking. It was perfect.
I love this song so much. Thx for bringing it up @Swan269.