2010 could well be the year of the Zombie, with the fantastic Walking Dead TV show and my song of the year Conversation 16 by The National. If we look back at the original Dawn of the Dead movie,we can see that it was actually a satire on rampant consumer culture where soulless empty headed direction-less morons are wandering aimlessly about with no sense of purpose.
This seems to be more appropriate than ever before and any doubters simply need to look down from level 3 of any shopping mall in the world to the mass of real life zombies wandering aimlessly below.
The National’s Matt Berninger distinctive deep baritone voice singing of bleak landscapes and melancholy have been the soundtrack to my life for sometime now but the song Conversation 16 where he sings “I was afraid I’d eat your brains,’ Cause I’m evil” initially made me wince but after a little research for interpretations of the song, I was left gob smacked by the beauty of a tale about a man who is afraid of becoming a zombie in life.
Lines such as “You’ll never believe the shitty thoughts I think” and “fall asleep in your branches” are delivered effortlessly and would melt the coldest of hearts and easy to see why it’s my most played song this year.
It would seem that that character is going with the flow: doing what is expected of him, not disappointing anyone, reading the script of his movie, keeping his shitty thoughts to himself and only telling his wife about them after she’s asleep. His best efforts are making him turn into a “zombie” he’s becoming less enthused about life, he’s unable to express himself, going through the motions, becoming a “confident liar,” etc.
“You’ll never believe the shitty thoughts I think”
My favourite theory on the lyrics of Conversation 16 and why I love this song so much can be heard in the last verse where he states all of the anti-zombie things that he actually wants out of life. To be romantic, to believe, to be safe, to continue loving his wife… but he’s ultimately afraid he’ll “eat her brains”. He’s afraid that the ritual of everyday life will strip him of his appealing aspects until he’s unable to feel emotion (like a zombie) and cause him to do harm to the person he loves and wants the most (eat her brains). Because he’s evil. (more…)