“The Bachelor and the Bride” by The Decemberists

67. Song No. 699: “The Bachelor and the Bride,” The Decemberists
Her Majesty The Decemberists, 2003

There’s a wrinkle in the water
Where we laid our first daughter
And I think the wind blows so sweetly there
Over there
And the windows and the cinders
And the willows in the timbers
The infernal rattling of the rain
Still remains…

Hell yes let’s start the B’s off with two songs I absolutely adore. This was one of my first favorite Decemberists songs and it has remained a top-five tune since I first heard it in early college.

And I’ve been defending this band for about as long.

I had a friend in college who tried SO HARD to enjoy the Decemberists. He loved the poetry of the lyrics but was so frustrated that he couldn’t get past Colin Meloy’s voice. Which is a gripe I can appreciate, and also prepared me for spending the rest of my life with someone whose freely admitted the same.

This is the first song I think about whenever anyone comments on the strength of The Decemberists’ lyricism (plus, the titular allusion to Duchamp’s massive glass artwork bearing a similar name is further evidence of how this band appeals to not only literary but also artistic sensibilities, with additional kudos to its permanent home at the gottdamn local gem that is The Philadelphia Art Museum). It is rich in imagery, deeply sensory (like, “Hear the corncrakes and the deerhooves / And the sleet rain on the slate roof” is some mighty evocative and downright audible scene-setting) and tells such an intense story with deliberate, delicate understatement that drives home its most heart-rending elements in just a line or two.

However the Decemberists’ sound evolved over eight albums, this sophomore album is essentially a continuation of what their debut record established, and their first two releases will always hold a special place in my heart for being how I fell in love with one of my all-time favorite bands. And this quiet, stripped-down but absolutely visceral song is one that will forever remain a prime example of how perfectly crafted their lyrics have always been a hallmark of their music that even their haters can’t deny.

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