Kiley Recommends: “Funeral Singers” by Sylvan Esso

“All my friends are words.” In this digital age, it’s easy to reduce people to their representative presence. After all, I can only see what my acquaintances choose to show of themselves. But how deep is a life, and what spark might be hidden under the covers?

Sylvan Esso and Collections of Colonies of Bees beautifully cover Califone’s “Funeral Singers.” The original song appears on the album “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers,” which also happens to be the soundtrack for a movie of the same name. Although I haven’t personally seen the film (yet), the trailer is intriguing and absolutely worth the search.

I’m only a little bit obsessed with covers, and this particular one has been on repeat lately. I love the spacey synth, the grounding rhythm of the acoustic guitar, and singer Amelia Meath’s clear tone guiding us through the cryptic lyrics much the same way a lighthouse keeper aides those in turbulent waters.

“Funeral singers wail.” They remind us of life in the midst of inevitable death —  that our friends and loved ones can be remembered through weeds and rain, half-gone birds, and magnets, even if we have been orphaned to this world. One day, everyone returns to the soil, and we all keep time until our push comes.

Covers remind me that understanding is a choice. The ability to see beyond the surface is a vital response to this world’s ache for light, and I am so grateful to these artists for shaping and reshaping that light in the form of this song. They remind me to offer the same courtesy to my friends, family, and even to strangers.

How much kinder would life be with this mindset? When assumptions are broken and viewed in new light, empathy is expanded. Acquaintances may now become familiar, and in the end, we are all funeral singers wailing for what is lost.

(Song recommendation by Kiley Lee)

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