- This song got a bunch of (deserved) attention as the musical centerpiece in the trailer for Netflix’s Sex Education a few years ago (it kicks in about halfway through the trailer, around here). The climactic Wah-Wah-Wah-Wa-Wa-Wa-Wa of the song’s ending feels poised as the exuberance of new love exploding in the lives of these adolescent characters.
- It’s a powerful ending to the song but its transcendence is misplaced (or at least misunderstood) in the context of this trailer.
- Side note: Ezra Furman performs most of the music for both seasons of the show (and she has a cameo in the first scene). The soundtrack is kind of a greatest hits of some of her recent-ish work.
- See, the song starts out being about new love. But new love becomes comfortable love and hard times and buying “drugs from a parking attendant” until finally, like a Tom Waits tragedy, the song finds one character getting “accepted to college” and transcending the shared “garbage small town rat trap.”
- (The wah-wah chorus still hasn’t hit by the time this person leaves the narrator in the dust. This is telling.)
- The narrator gets a “dumb job” in retail, just missing this other person.
- And then.
- And then.
- And then–you know this–life just keeps going.
- And we get to the final verse of the song and it knocks me out:
“I drew your name in the sand.
Came to the beach ‘cause we used to go here.
I watched the blue wave cover it over,
Do what the ocean does best.”
- It’s such a small thing and the simplicity of these lines feels lived in in the same way that the Dear Sugar letter in the previous dispatch does. It’s a small fist in a grand song and it feebly threatens to make the whole thing “pop” like one of my favorite lines in a Mountain Goats song.
- It’s resignation and longing, years after this relationship’s run its course. The narrator closes with a muted shrug: “I feel fine, don’t even feel sad about it, I just love you baby so, so bad.”
- And that’s when that famous climax rises up.
- It’s not a moment of joyful young love. Those wah-wahs? They are the wa-wa-water of blue waves crashing over the sand. A futile effort at washing away loss and memory.