Song of the Day #2,745: ‘Play For Today’ – Belle & Sebastian

b-s_girls-in-peacetime_packshot-1Best Songs of 2015 – #1
‘Play For Today’ – Belle & Sebastian

I had more Top 40 hits in this year’s top twenty countdown than I ever have before, so I guess I’ve earned the right to go full indie geek and give my #1 spot to an epic Belle & Sebastian song about battling depression.

What did you expect, ‘Hotline Bling?’

Belle & Sebastian’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance was released early in the year to little fanfare. Twenty years into their remarkable career, the Scottish septet doesn’t excite critics the way they used to.

It’s a shame, because the record is solid start to finish, not the best thing they’ve ever recorded but better than pretty much everything else released in 2015. Guess that’s just shooting par for these guys.

The 7-plus minute ‘Play For Today’ grabbed me immediately. Performed as a duet by B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch and Dee Dee Penny of the L.A.-based indie band Dum Dum Girls, the song uses theater as a metaphor for depression.

The buoyant music runs counter to the song’s theme, at least until the extended coda, when (over chants of “Author! Author!” directed, I assume, toward God) the singers rally to climb out of the morass.

The song’s final lines are a beautiful call to live life to the fullest and not retreat to the sidelines: “The backstage of your life
is filled with props and lines you should have sung / The backstage of your life is filled with echoes of the ones you love.”

In a year of great songs, this was the one that spoke to me most directly about the human condition. And you can even kinda dance to it.

[Stuart]
I’m in a play written today about a boy
Who hides in attics when the sun is up
Everyone is at work
What will I do? Where will I go?
Show me the way
The truth, the anger, show me rules of thumb
Show the way to grow old

Love is a guide
The endless river of the soul
But we are mean
The dried up riverbeds of rock and stone
Lust is my friend
She comes to me when I am tired

Life is a rope, death is a myth
Love is a fraud, it’s misunderstood
Work is a sentence, family’s a drag
This house is a trap

[Dee Dee]
I’m in a play written today about a girl
She gets on perfectly with young and old
Everybody loves her
What would she wear? The cut of her hair?
The way that she slides
Gracefully into the working week
She hides her baggage inside

She’s got a friend
An ugly monster that will eat your face
She hides her crime
A hefty catalogue of wasted time
She’s got a friend
A lonely monster that will prey on you

Life is a secret, death is a myth
Love is a fraud, it’s misunderstood
Work is a sentence, family’s a drag
This house is a trap

Life is a secret, death is a myth
Love is a fraud, it’s misunderstood
Work is a sentence, family’s a drag
This house is a trap

[Stuart]
I’m in a play written today about a boy
Tired and melancholy, takes the weight
Takes the weight of the world
[Dee Dee]
I walked alone, loving a song
Walking the earth
The worn-out sister who is twenty-three
Dried and wrinkled, alone

I’ll give you a month
To see past shadows in your sacred night
I’ll give you a week
To look Medusa in the eye
I’ll give you a month
To notice heaven in the sight of stage

(Author, author! Author, author!)

[Dee Dee]
You’re king inside your head
You’re sitting on the throne of sand
You’re pushing back the tide
[Stuart]
So lift the mountain up
So tie the writer’s ribbons down
Assemble all your troops
[Together]
We go to war with metaphors
And suddenly see sense (And suddenly see sense)
And when you do, I’ll have the higher ground (I’ll have the higher ground)
You’re not the king of me
I’ll take my chance and play for tyranny
I build the sets, I light the scene
We’re prettier when we are on the screen
I build the sets, I light the scene
We’re braver when we’re on the sacred screen
The backstage of your life
Is filled with props and lines you should have sung
The backstage of your life
Is filled with echoes of the ones you love

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,745: ‘Play For Today’ – Belle & Sebastian

  1. Dana says:

    Well, there can be no doubt that this is your list.😄

    This sounds a bit like a Vampire Weekend influenced Abba song.

  2. Peg says:

    Great song beautifully done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s