Today, we see the Decemberists paint a vivid, but bleak, picture in “On the Bus Mall.”
This is To Quote a Phrase, a spotlight on notable pop culture quotes.
October was a Month of To Quote a Phrase, both here and at Comics Should Be Good!
On the 2005 Decemberists album, Picaresque, there’s one of the most evocative tunes that Colin Meloy has ever written, which is saying a lot, as Meloy has written many extremely evocative songs. However, I think that “On the Bus Mall” has a particularly high spot in his oevre.
The song is about a pair of runaways who survive by turning tricks in Portland, Oregon, at the Portland Transit Mall, which was near Waterfront Park and Old Chinatown in Portland. Now, it’s been nearly 20 years since this album came out, so obviously, the references that Meloy makes in this song are now mostly outdated, but I think that’s even BETTER, as it is a strong testament to how well he is able to paint a picture of a certain setting and a time for these two runaways.
Here’s the most evocative stanza, and the one I’m spotlight for this feature:
Among all the urchins and old Chinese merchants
Of the old town
We reigned at the pool hall
With one iron cue ball
And we never let the bastards get us down
And we laughed off the quick tricks–
The old men with limp dicks–
On the colonnades of the waterfront park
As 4 in the morning came on, cold and boring
We huddled close
In the bus stop enclosure enfolding
Our hands tightly holding
Talk about painting a PICTURE, right? You can never visit Portland, circa the turn of the 21st Century, and still feel like you’ve been there just by listening to this tune.
Thanks to my wife for suggesting this one.
If you all have any ideas for a good pop culture quote you’d like to see me spotlight, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org