Are You Feeling Better Now?

Basically, this weekend consisted mostly of just lying around in bed, drifting in and out of Nyquil-induced sleep, occasionally being aware of Hurricane Hanna. But it did afford me plenty of time to just listen to music and do nothing else.

Then “Grace Cathedral Hill” by The Decemberists came up on my iTunes shuffle, and everything seemed to snap into focus all of a sudden. I guess the subject matter of the song really reminded me of the Bay Area and San Francisco, and also the people there I miss. The gentle strumming of the acoustic guitar, combined with the swirling organs, created a hazy, dream-like effect. Somehow the song added it up to create a moment of clarity, of sorts.

I’m not in any kind of clear mental state to write anything coherent about the song, but I think this Stylus review sums it up pretty good:

“A gorgeous tribute to San Francisco, and a lovely escapism tune at the same time, the beauty of “Grace Cathedral Hill” lies in how prosaic the tale is, yet how picturesquely told it is. It’s New Year’s Day. The male protagonist stares at the dying Cathedral hill, and decides to enter the basilica atop it. He coughs up a quarter to light a candle only to watch it melt to its wick. Turning on his heels, he and his “green-eyed girl” traverse bustling Hyde St. Pier for a hot dog. In the distance the National Anthem is heard. It’s made clear that his mate is crestfallen, and he hopes that a night on the town will cheer her up: “on a motorbike…all the city lights blind your eyes tonight, are you feeling better now?” It doesn’t. He stares into her moist eyes, cursing the charlatan’s on the corner selling faux religious talismans: “Fifty-three bucks to buy a brand new halo.” He inwardly declares his love for this Irish brat, finally understanding that he will go to the ends of the earth for her–and why not? He’s already been to the Catholic church….”

The song really does a very good job of conjuring up San Francisco, and maybe this is just the cold medicine speaking, but I am feeling a bit nostalgic about that place. Sometimes I wish I were back there.


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