Monday, April 14, 2008

song to abe lincoln

i mean, i am pretty good at some things. but, the using the internet does not number among them. normally, this isn't a problem. i can manage google image searching for dogs in costume and can navigate jstor fairly well. but, i really wanted to proclaim to the world just how much i love roky erickson's "song to abe lincoln." i wanted to put the song on here, but i don't know how to do that. and i couldn't decipher the directions on the blogger help page. the entries that i found were just about putting songs on to play in background while people read your blog. the song, while my current favie, would be really creepy as a score to any blog really because it is sort of about abraham lincoln's corpse. as you may or may not know, lincoln was embalmed extensively, so much so that when his body was exhumed in 1901 to be put into a safer tomb to thwart potential grave robbers, he had not decomposed at all. his clothes were mildewy, but his lanky body was perfectly intact.

this photo is from in 1865 when his body was lying in state. you can sort of make out his face. well, that is what it would look like now if you were to get ten feet under ground, into the steel cage covered in 4000 pounds of concrete in springfield, illinois (except no eyebrows apparently). in all, lincoln's casket has been moved 17 times and opened 5 times.

i am not sure that the song is really about his corpse as much as it is about the affective inverse for that wellworn americanism about any dumb kid growing up to be president. roky's song (and his abe) are about the experience of isolation that he treats as universal where we are all afraid of spending our lives undiscovered in log cabins in the woods. he promises "we will seek you out, we will find you..." potentially directed to these lost abes of the world, this we is never defined. it is about the comfort in being both sought and in seeking another. the drums in it are incredible and it ends with this really eerie refrain of "white house white house white house" that it is hard not sing along to even though is made creepier by the music stopping abruptly giving the feeling of erickson's voice literally hovering after the song (haunty). i knew it was gonna be my new favorite song when i heard it start with the lyric "we are all so special."

why are you still reading this? go listen to the 30 second sample at the itunes store already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the best and most haunting songs of Roky. It´s hard to decipher all the words though. Could you help me?