In times of isolation and uncertainty, we turn to the arts for sense and comfort.
To that, we can only speak of one topic, even in art. To discuss songs about, say, unrequited love or a night at the club seems out of tune with the collective consciousness.
That brings me to “The Long Defeat,” one of the rare songs that holds any true meaning these days.
Song: “The Long Defeat”
Album: To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
The title stems from a JRR Tolkien passages, once in a personal letter and again in The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King:
“…I have dwelt with him years uncounted…I passed over the mountains, and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”
In sum, this phrase exemplifies the eternal struggle for good and evil and how the battle will not always result in victory. But despite this uncertainty, you press on because you are compelled by your humanity to bring about good in the world.
We do not know the final outcome of this pandemic – the lives lost, the economic toll, and the social balance all depend on our actions. But, as “The Long Defeat” contests, we cannot focus on these outcomes because that would distract us from our role in “winning” this battle, whatever that may mean for you:
“Still I believe there’s a word in the wire
And I believe there’s a way through the fire
And I believe there’s a joy that blooms beyond these walls”
This is one of the great eccentricities of man: Through devoted faith, unbridled will, or pure naiveté, we can stare into the face of any threat and face it until triumph or destruction. As each great crisis has revealed throughout the centuries, we are about to find out what that is worth.
- I initially did not care for this song. I then saw Thrice in concert promoting this album, which was shortly after the United States’ psyche started to fracture in the wake of dissenting viewpoints and endless mass shootings. Given my own internal unrest, this concert was a much-needed release.
At the end of the set, without much dialogue, lead singer Dustin Kensrue bid the audience farewell and left us with “The Long Defeat.” As those hope-burdened chords rained down, I felt every bit of them.
- You need not have read any Tolkien to enjoy the message here (I have not read any myself).
- We are all dealing with our respective quarantines in whatever ways suit us, but thank goodness for video chats, online gaming, and social sites such as JQBX and Goodreads. When you indulge in what you enjoy, it is better to do so with company. “Together, we’ll fight the long defeat.”