Years ago now, my Good Friend got me into Belle and Sebastian. Or, to be more accurate, I liked a couple of songs without knowing who sung them and from him being a fan, I put two and two together.
Me and my Good Friend are sadly no longer friends, but the music he shared with me has stuck with me to this day. And in great Dan Rydell style, this one song stuck with me more than most, but not for the reasons you might think.
One very bad day in 2010, I put this song on and I “listened” to it on repeat for 26 hours. And yes, I was awake for 26 hours. Like I said, it was a bad day. And it was only a few sporadic listens over the next few days when I realised I’d completely misunderstood the song. I can’t work out how many listen throughs of the song I must have racked up, but because I only really absorbed sentences here and there and put it together like a badly made patchwork puzzle, the over all sentiment hardly got through to me. I thought it was about a man trying to escape a cult-style religion, not about a Baseball player’s life. I wish I could remember my Good Friend’s reaction to this interpretation.
It must have been the lines about pagan holidays and devils to erase that planted the seed, but it was the “life outside the diamond is a wrench” that solidified for me. I imagined something like Scientology, with a big non-descript building in the middle of nowhere, in a diamond shape, where people gathered to worship their god. And how was their god symbolised? Well, the statue, of course. As in “The statue’s crying”, and “meet you at the statue in an hour”.
And of course, what’s a cult religion without it’s take on sexualtiy? “Piazza, New York Catcher, are you straight or are you gay?”, Who was Piazza? No idea. What was a New York Catcher? A cult-member who recruited other cult members (I liked The Orioles, in theory, but that was the extent of my baseball knowledge at that time). And this was clearly a cult based in New York. Yes, New York, you know, the city known for it’s… big open fields…? And they were clearly questioning his sexuality because he didn’t want to marry the women in the cult, and they wouldn’t imagine it was because he wanted to leave the cult, just that he might not be into women.
It all made sense at the time!
And of course a cult would focus on virginity… I misheard “the borrowed bedroom, virginal and spare” slightly. I thought “Virginal and spare” was talking about this Miss Private, and the “spare” was, well, her being the spare sacrifice, which they were giving to the statue.
Other things I mishead where:-
“The statue’s crying too and Willie May” – Who’s Willy May? Possibly the leader of the cult
“The Giants and Maxwell Play” – I’ve never heard of that one, must be a Pinter.
“You betcha boots religion’s first, and rest on holidays” – This one’s self explanatory
“He’s praying for a doorway back into the life he wants” – This poor guy wants to leave the cult!
“The confession of the bench” Must be a cult that’s taken some elements of catholicism.
“Meet you at the statue in an hour” – He’s either defeated, because of how Cults work, and will meet the girl at the statue in an hour because that’s when they’re going to kill her, or that’s it, that’s when their big escape is happening.
See, it all made sense!
This song was absolutely fascinating to me in those 26 hours. What a song! This poor Piazza fellow was imagining a life after leaving a religous cult based in a diamond shaped non-descript building. It was beautiful. I hoped he and this Miss Private would go on to be very happy indeed.
And of course, then I learnt that I was completely wrong and the bubble burst somewhat and my Good Friend explained the information I’d been missing. But I’m nothing if not like Dan Rydell and, like I said above, it’s stuck with me anyway.
Mostly because I prefer my interpretation.
Anyway. This came to me because I was looking for Sports Night clips on youtube and an irrelevant video with this song came up and I thought it was too much of a freaky coincidence not to write up about it.