Quiet Town

I became consciously familiar with the musical group, The Killers, only two or three years ago, but I suspect I had heard of and from them long before that. The band became known to a worldwide audience as early as 2004 (I think it was formed in 2001). The group’s song that originally caught my attention—and which I grew to appreciate very much for its tune and its story-based lyrics—is entitled Quiet Town. Two versions of the tune are embedded below: the first one is a recorded studio version with electrical guitars, etc.; the second one is an acoustic version presented on television on CBS This Morning‘s Saturday Sessions a few years ago. Both versions are poignant and mournful, each with its own distinct personality.

Since first hearing Quiet Town on Sirius XM in my car, I have listened to several other tunes by The Killers. Though Quiet Town is my favorite from the group (of those I have heard so far, anyway), I appreciate a number of their tunes. Lyrics written to reflect a compelling story mean far more to me than those that seem to arise from meaningless rhymes.  And thus begins my Sunday morning.


Though my mostly-solitary-confinement is largely self-imposed, it nonetheless sometimes feels less like rehabilitation and more like punishment imposed by a spiteful world. I do not wear a mask on those rare occasions when in public places, but I behave like a leper. More accurately, I imagine, I must seem like a nervous visitor to the fringes of a leper colony. Until my white blood cell count dips into the “normal” range and stays there for a while, I think my sense of being at elevated risk for exposure to potentially deadly disease will remain with me. My mental/emotional discomfort tends to be greater when in the presence of dense groups of people (which is not necessarily—but often is—the same as groups of dense people); though I understand exposure to a single virus or bacterium can be just as dangerous. Yet I sometimes take the risk, making the irrational argument to myself that I have some degree of physical control of exposure, simply by adding a few inches of space between other people and me.  Emotions have the capacity to overwhelm one’s intellect, which causes me to question the extent to which intelligence is a strength and emotion is a weakness…or vice versa.


At what point do miniscule changes in color transform something from one color to another? The gradients between colors are too small to allow us to see that differential. Black is dark white. White is light black. Blue and yellow are simply blatant misrepresentations of green; but if they were more nuanced, they might be the same color. Do the cones in our eyes limit colors we can see, or is color an external characteristic that owes its existence to features of light? Or something else? Why is grey so soothing in certain contexts but so depressing in others? Why, in the absence of sight, are the senses of smell and hearing and touch amplified? Or are they really amplified? Is it, instead, that they are simply more readily noticed without the distractions caused by light? Why does the stroke of another person’s hand on my face feel different from the way my own hand feels? We ask all of these questions, and more, from the earliest moments of our ability to use language, but we forget both the answers and their meaning. Simply livings robs us of awe. But we’d have it no other way.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Quiet Town

  1. David, your comments brought to mind some of the concepts of other writers/poets whose observations of humankind reveal so much about “us.” Hope is, indeed, a philosophy; a better one than surrender.

  2. David Legan says:

    Quiet Town made me think of this:
    “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.
    Henry David Thoreau

    All we can do is try. Screw Yoda or Miyagi or whoever said “do or do not, there is no try.” Trying IS doing. Sometimes it is all we CAN do, and that’s ok. It’s the giving up…the “confirmed desperation” that we must eschew. Hope is not a plan, but it is a philosophy..

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