“I Remember Me”
This is a fucking gorgeous song. It’s one of the first sustained ‘story song’ type songs David Berman’s put on an album. This is the story. A young couple is madly in love, and they spend their days together in so much love and happiness, like it will never end. And one day, the man asks the woman to marry him, and he gets struck by a truck, and he’s in a coma for a long time, and the woman moves on, and the man wakes up but it’s too late. There’s really not a speck of bitterness to the telling, though.
It’s a heartbreaking song.
Here’s the story behind the story:
I always have wanted to sustain stories over the length of a song but haven’t tried much because I figured it’s someone else’s turf. I mean, when you’re writing songs you play to your strong side, and mine had always been fractured, however slightly, composition. I had been keeping off asking this woman I love to marry me for a handful of years. I knew I was going to eventually, but was happy to think of it always as 9 months off, when I had a little more money or something. For that song, I imagined I had the chance to ask taken away from me through the insertion of a runaway truck.
I’ve always felt this song really deeply, but when I read that above it all a) made a lot more sense, and b) amplified the song’s tristesse. “I Remember Me” is a story song, but it’s also a philosophic proof of love. What’s known as a reductio ad absurdum is when you assume something’s false, and show the obvious absurdities that would arise, therefore it must be true. The story in “I Remember Me” posits this alternate universe where Dave and Cassie don’t end up together, and he demonstrates how unbearable and sad that life would be. I guess you’d call it a reductio ad dolorum. Somehow, by outline the very worst way their love could turn out, the song pays the greatest tribute to the way it actually did.