Godspeed You! Black Emperor came into my life a few years back and has been a consistent backdrop to my writing and meditation. Their music is, by turns, melodic, powerful, disturbing, unsettling, inspiring. Whether in the background or so loud that no other thought is possible.
The Dead Flag Blues is the first track off F#A# (Infinity), a dark meditation drawing upon spoken words from an apocalyptic survivor/witness. Stunning.
Of course, I could have chosen any GYBE track to recommend, but the moment our weary narrator speaks, The Dead Flag Blues has the power to snap me out of whatever I’m doing, centering me in his bleak, melancholy, wasted landscape. Astounding.
The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we’re all so many drunks
With the radio on and the curtains drawn
We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death
The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles
It went like this:
The buildings tumbled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair
The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said, “Kiss me, you’re beautiful -
These are truly the last days”
You grabbed my hand
And we fell into it
Like a daydream
Or a fever
We woke up one morning and fell a little further down
For sure it’s the valley of death
I open up my wallet
And it’s full of blood
Keep making music, you change the world a little for the better every time you do.