I’m in love. Complete, head-over-heels, blow-off-your-friends, don’t-care-if-he’s-in-prison, obsessive love. I’m in love with 39 minutes and 20 seconds of pure bliss and it’s called The Sunset Tree.
The Sunset Tree is a 2005 album by The Mountain Goats and it’s wonderful. I’ve been revisiting it for the past week and a half and it’s like finally spending time with your best friend after months and months apart. The Sunset Tree is full of amazing songs and I adore each one of them. They pulled me in, seduced me and I’m completely captivated. And with lines like “Some things you’ll do for money/And some you’ll do for fun/But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you/One by one“, who could blame me?
There are songs that make me want to dance, others that make me want to sing and still others that make me sit around and contemplate life. The Sunset Tree is my perfect companion. We’re together all the time and I don’t think I’ll ever be sick of it. But there is one song that I love just a little bit more than the others (but don’t tell on me).
After you’ve listened to the first two songs on The Sunset Tree you’re greeted by the musical glory that is This Year. This Year begins with a fantasy I think we all had at some point during our teenage years–getting in the car, escaping home and putting the pedal to the floor. The song continues to tell the story of the singer’s time with a girl named Cathy, underage drinking and running away from his abusive stepfather.
All of the emotion in the song really is expressed in the line “There will be feasting/And dancing/In Jerusalem next year/I am going to make it/Through this year/If it kills me“. “Next year in Jerusalem” is customarily repeated at the end of Yom Kippur and the Passover Seder, expressing the desire to soon see a people traditionally scattered across the globe in unanimous celebration in their most sacred place. It’s a hope passed down through the generations, but there isn’t going to be a “next year in Jerusalem”. There isn’t a magical “next year” for any of us. But that doesn’t keep us from hoping, dreaming and believing the next year will somehow be different. And maybe the believing is all that matters. Because things don’t stay the same, but they don’t magically get better either. So there’s always the hope that when things change, it’ll be for the better. And until then all we can do is put on our favorite album of the moment and sing “I am going to make it/Through this year/If it kills me“. So if you need me I’ll be in my room, turning the volume up.