48 Comments

One of my absolute favorites. There are certain songs they make me cry almost every time (“It’s Quiet Uptown” for example). June Hymn is one of those tear jerkers for me.

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Same! I'm so glad we got an annotated version of this one. The sense of nostalgia is palpable, feels like reminiscing a memory that feels like my own, but is actually Colin's :)

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It was this song that made me go out and buy a Martin guitar. I’d never played a guitar. I can’t read music. I’m getting on in life and thought , I need to try and learn something. I got there in the end and could finally play it. My singing is crap though 🙈

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This beautiful song pretty much sums up early parenthood for me. It was June 2011 and our first daughter was just 3 months old. I played this song over and over and it spoke to me like no other, full of metaphor:

The endless washing of tiny baby grows - "Pegging clothing on the line".

Trying to get your crying baby to sleep in at 4am - "Standing on the landing with the war you shouldered all the night before".

Finally to sleep, only for the bird song at dawn to "disrupt my reverie again".

Having a family - "Expanding out its empire by degrees"

Two years later our second daughter was born, another beautiful blonde baby girl, and the chorus lyric finally came true -

"Once upon it, the yellow bonnets garland all the lawn. You were waking, day was breaking, a panoply of song. And summer comes to Springville Hill".

Indeed it does Colin. Thank you for this song. It means a lot. X

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...and perhaps a few years from now, when the girls are grown, i shall rediscover my own songwriting. I hope I'll be able to look back having been a good father -

"And years from now when this old light isn't ambling anymore,

Will I bring myself to write

"I give my best to Springville Hill".

I hope so.

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Those harmonies on ‘Will I bring myself to write’ send shivers down my spine, every time. When I’m feeling world-weary, those harmonies help remind me that there is some magic in the world that humans can provoke just with their voices. Thank you for that.

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Absolutely agree. Blissful

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For tattoo purposes I’ve been trying to figure out definitively what yellow bonnets are for a while now so this helps a lot 😆.

This is one of my top favorites and these are all such lovely insights. Thank you for sharing!

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Please share the tattoo design once you settled on it/get it! I'm curious what you are putting together/into which you are incorporating these yellow bonnets!

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Ha will do! It’ll be a while because now I’m unemployed but basically I’ve been thinking of a cardinal holding yellow bonnets in its beak for a while but haven’t known what the yellow bonnets would look like!

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ah, that's awesome!

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Oct 27, 2022·edited Oct 27, 2022

> And the war she shouldered all the night before?

I always assumed it was a metaphor referring to Hank and maybe how she had been up all night with him, holding him through illness or misery of some sort. And this line is a love letter to the burden that moms often shoulder in the dark of the night.

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Precisely my take on that line too!

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June Hymn and January Hymn are often tracks I use to introduce your music to folks. Of course this offering depends on who they are or seem to be when we meet and talk music, but beauty is beauty and if I get hint of that vibe I will suggest them. I chose January Hymn as a song for a tribute when my mother died. She liked it, I love it as I did/do her. It was a song that always pressed my emotions from the first listen. Now it triggers tears every time I spin it, but they are welcome tears. I can’t express how grateful I am for your music Mr. Meloy, Thank you.

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Note 12 surprises me! What do people hear when they mishear it? It's my favorite line of one of my favorite songs.

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OOooh, I've been waiting for this one!! Thanks so much. We sing this to each of our daughters at bedtime (they're two and 8 months). It will always, always hold a special place in our hearts. <3

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Oct 26, 2022·edited Oct 26, 2022

One of my absolute favourite Decemberists songs. Every time I hear the lyrics “ Standing on the landing with the war you shouldered all the night before”, I think of my lovely dad as he neared the end of his life but was determined to struggle on. Such an emotional song.

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Thank you for clearing up cardinal maroon! That was on my list for the next Q&A. The real meaning behind it is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

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"Heaven sent this cardinal maroon to decorate our living room" is so beautiful! It has always been my favourite line in this song. Such a romantic way to describe it.

I can definitely agree with others in the comments about "standing on the landing with the war you shouldered all the night before" it absolutely brought motherhood to mind for me.

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Jun 9·edited Jun 9

I once had an old breeze block barn and Daniel converted the top floor for my attempts at producing art and he used the ground floor for his actual woodworking (he was a psychologist by day, carpenter by heart). Cardinals and hummingbirds were frequent guests and every February robins revisited their recycled nest in the eaves and populated it with tiny blue eggs. Tragically, Daniel decided to exit stage left in 2018, he waited around just long enough to see that years’ robin chicks depart and apparently the only tortured soul he couldn’t save was his own. We all have our tragedies. That was ours. What had been a technicolor love settled into black and white life. Moving back to Ireland this song became my portal back to that space, beautiful days of shared love and minutiae of life. I revisit safely with this tune, mining the sadness and the joy perfectly. There is genius and magic here. Thank you Colin for sharing your gift. I now share Carson’s artwork with my granddaughter who similarly adores her bug language.

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when I read what you have written about what you wrote, how erudite you sound, I know that you're the real deal. Sometimes a celebrity (you are, aren't you?), will write a book and it sells because they are a celebrity, someone wants to own something this famous person touched. But your writing is really good.

Your personality comes through with every line you write. Good stuff, this.

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Hi Colin! My 6 year old also named Colin seems to have a natural affinity for music and he loves this album. His faves are Calamity Song and Down By The Water (he made my wife’s Spotify top song that a couple yrs back). But he always lets me listen to June Hymn when we throw the album on and the harmonies on the bridge bring tears to my eyes without fail every time. Thanks for the songs and thanks for this newsletter!

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Sorry I misspoke. All Arise and Down By the Water are his faves. Though he happily listens to the album all the way through (which is what I insist should be done 😉)

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