A summer song in October
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.
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 🙈
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
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.
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!
> 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.
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.
Note 12 surprises me! What do people hear when they mishear it? It's my favorite line of one of my favorite songs.
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
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.
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!
"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.
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.
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!
One of my all time favorites. And probably the Decemberists song I sing/play the most for myself. Thank you for exploring this beautiful imagery here!