83 Comments
founding

This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I signed up for. I'd buy a book of annotated Decemberists lyrics like this in a heartbeat. Colin, thank you so much!

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Big agree! I already own Wildwood but I'd pay good money for real Decemberists literature that would make my life that much more complete.

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Can I second this? Let me pay you to know your mind!

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Apr 11, 2022Liked by Colin Meloy

That note about suggesting Leslie's parents are the ill-fated duo from WBGDT got me wondering - what other Decemberists characters have relations to one another?

PS my sourdough starter is Leslie Anne Levain, though her fate has been far more prosperous than her namesake's.

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Apr 14, 2022Liked by Colin Meloy

Fascinating stuff! Thanks for sharing! My wife and I would love to see the same treatment for The Bachelor and the Bride. It's one of our favourite Decemberists songs, but the narrative has always been slightly puzzling!

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I tried to make sense of B&B but knowing that it is the title of an art piece only made it more confusing!

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Speaking of borrowing things... I totally borrowed the story of Leslie Anne Levine and used it as a subplot in a D&D campaign. Eli, the barrow boy, also made an appearance.

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Cadging. Another new word for me.

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Apr 14, 2022Liked by Colin Meloy

Ahh this is incredible thank you for sharing this kind of thing! It's endlessly interesting! Also I love Carson's illustration RIP Leslie.

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Really enjoying this background into the songwriting process! If you happen to read this comment, Colin, I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'd love a future post where you dive into some of your major influences as far as prose-aesthetic and use of more obscure vocabulary.

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Apr 14, 2022Liked by Colin Meloy

Colin, I'm going to be a jerk here. I personally don't like it when you sing "chimbley sweep" in this song. "The Chimbley Sweep" is a rollicking fun song, and the character's mispronounciation fits the song. "Leslie Anne Levine" is not, and the mispronounciation doesn't fit, in my opinion.

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Apr 15, 2022·edited Apr 15, 2022

I'm going to be a jerk (to you) and say it is an accepted dialectical pronunciation, though it may (or may not) have its origins in mispronunciation. :)

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Oh, more like THIS please! This post was my favorite yet. As a failed literature professor, I'm definitely the kind of person who pays attention to lyrics. I think this may be why I turned out to be such a fan of The Decemberists. My first great musical love was R.E.M., especially the early stuff, though I was late to that bandwagon (see what I did there?) as to this one, not discovering them until the release of Out of Time in 1991 (I was a junior in high school). I will never forget standing outside the Stieffel theatre in St Louis, waiting for our "VIP experience," and hearing you all playing early REM tunes. I thought my heart would burst. Planets aligned. The heavenly host shone down. Etc etc.

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“Planets aligned. Heavenly host shone down. Etc. etc. “ Seinfeld. Yada yada yada! Love it!

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What is a failed literature professor? One who failed to become a professor or one who failed to leave their mark. Very poetic.

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Ha! One who passed her exams, wrote half a dissertation, had been teaching for years and loved it, but couldn't keep a committee together (through no fault of her own--department in disarray) so failed to get her PhD because Paperwork.

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This is the thing. This is why we are here. You’re a fantastic writer, Colin. I’m not one to heap the hollow praise on pedants. I don’t have much referential stuff to go by, but I’m pretty well-read. I don’t play an instrument, and my singing voice is reserved for the interior of modern automobiles. And yet I’m SO inspired. And have been for so long. Mesallied….we/they/pronoun here dallied? What were the consequences? Stop rambling, self!

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Also, I’ve posted here a few times and realized I didn’t send kudos to Carson. I doodled a really weird series of illustrations as I was devouring Her Majesty. Seems we all share that Great War doom.

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My goodness. Sorry for the extreme enthusiasm!

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My name is Marty Leslie Levine, and thank you -- I have always loved that song, as macabre as it is. I had tickets for your last tour but missed it, not by dying at birth but by falling down some stairs and breaking my left knee and right foot simultaneously, five days before the concert. I got out of the hospital with both legs in braces and a walker, three hours before the show -- and no one was brave enough to haul me to the hall. Damn it. But thanks -- keep the discursiveness coming.

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This is great, in a Decemberisty sort of way🤪. Load the man up with misfortunes so he has plenty to draw from for his next LP. Seriously though, I hope everything healed well and you’re back at it.

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Thanks, Brian. Yep, rehab taught me to walk again -- not a very Decemberisty ending indeed, but I'll take it.

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I love how the comments are put in footnotes. The lyrics are presented without interruption, and a footnote gives licence for unrestrained elaboration. "If this footnote sounds too indulgent, sir, then go back to the main text; the fault lies with you, this author demands none of your attention."

It's also really fucking cool and stuff.

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I have long floated the (tenuously supported) idea that not only are all the songs in the Colinverse™️ related, there's only a few characters that are either the same person or different aspects of the Person like Jerry Cornelius, et al in Moorcock's Eternal Champion Multiverse. Like either the Rake is also the villain from WNGDT AND from Mariner's (he survived!), or his aspect repeats through time.

This has not proved a popular viewpoint so far, but I think it's mostly other people's lack of deep reading of British New Wave SciFi at issue. Is William also Corum and Elric? I think so.

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The MCU: Meloy Chromatic Universe.

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Oh this is fun to read!

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Adding to the chorus of love for annotated lyrics, and would throw down money SO FAST for an illustrated, annotated book of lyrics...

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love this song, and getting this commentary now so many years later really brings it home. thanks!

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So this was the song that made me fall in love with the Decemberists. I had to crack out the dictionary and look up the word mesallied. You know a song is great when your need a reference book to fully appreciate it!

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