BMOWP Classic Album: Hospice

Classic albums are supposed to spend longer than a few months in your rotation.

BMOWP Classic Album

Hospice by The Antlers

Classic albums are wrought with circumstance; classic albums are saddled with life-changing trips and former girlfriends and death and periods of awakening. Massive transitions, of which one album served as the soundtrack: that’s what classic albums are made of.

HospiceThen again, time isn’t the only factor in determining what constitutes a classic album.

Sometimes it’s a voice that can barely push the words out, a whispered desperate noise that betrays emotion, proving that, while the songs might be fictional, they’re certainly mired in autobiographical fact. Sometimes, it’s lyrics that hide behind poetry – real poetry; not just rhyming and cuteness but deep meaning, a full story from note to note. Sometimes, it’s an atmosphere that perfectly contains the setting: an aging hospital, a dying woman, a love-struck nurse, a deep-seated mixture of doubt and misery and martyrdom that reminds us all of how powerful pain can be.

And sometimes, we just can’t explain it. Sometimes, there’s simply nothing to compare it to.

Really, there’s nothing to say until you’ve heard Hospice. And once you’ve heard it, you’ll probably be in the same shape I am – faced with the impossible task of describing heart-rendering guilt and loss.

But you’ll remember it.

Damned straight, you’ll remember it. Every sad note is laced with meaning; every glimmer of hope is extinguished by reality, and like that first time you saw Schindler’s List and thought “Boy, this is a sad movie but holy crap I’ll never forget it” you’ll hold Hospice tight to your heart.

Unwilling to let go of those feelings. Unwilling to let the album slip away.

Because those feelings are real and they’re what make us human.

You’ll struggle to sing along (though you’ll desperately want to, subconsciously putting yourself in the place of the narrator and feeling his pain as your own). You’ll also embrace hopelessness, discovering how wonderful and raw it feels. How absolutely beautiful it can be, like perfect prose brought to life.

Which is what a classic album is supposed to be. Without regard to time or attachments, they stand as art in its most basic sense: creations designed to reach into our heart and tug on its strings.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 5th, 2010