Beirut (the band) and my childhood memories

I am going to see Beirut live tonight and have been brushing up on their songs for the past few days.  I don’t know about you, but a lot of the music reminds me of funeral processions.  Maybe it’s the brass instruments or the melancholy feel of the songs, but there is something about their “vibe” that makes me think of funerals.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the compositions are amazing and moving, but there is an edge of the morose that I can’t help but pick up.

When I was growing up in Belarus in the 80s funerals were a pretty public affair.  My family and I lived in a high rise, with our building being one of many that were attached and which hugged an inner courtyard that contained benches, kids playground equipment and so on.  If you have ever been travelling in eastern Europe you probably know what kind of buildings I am talking about.  Well when someone passed away in the “complex” of buildings there would be a funeral procession…on foot.  I could be mixing something I saw in the movies with actual events, but I am almost positive there would often be brass instruments on hand to provide the funeral march.  I remember having a very morbid fascination with these events as a child, an irresistible urge to witness them even though a part of me found them quite frightening.  I sometimes get a very similar feeling listening to Beirut – something fascinating but also something private that perhaps I should not be a part of.  That is a pretty weird way to describe it I suppose, but that’s just the way it is.

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