For the 2nd installment of what is tentatively titled: “My favorite albums, their deeper meanings, how they get me through life, and why you should love them too,” I turn to Win Butler of Arcade Fire, and their debut album The Funeral. Sure, comparing Canadian based indie rockers to The Great American novel seems kind of odd at first, but if someone understands nostalgia and disillusionment more than F. Scott Fitzgerald, it’s Win Butler. Besides, Butler lived in Texas before moving to Montreal, so it still kind of counts.
This nostalgic album, aptly named The Funeral, screams out as a parallel to Jay Gatsby staring at the green light across the bay. On track #1, “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” Butler wishes he could, “build a tunnel from [his] window to [hers].” Nostalgia, the longing for a past unattainable, nonreturnable hits us all at some point or another. How odd it is to spend the present trying to return to the past, only ending up adding more time in the process.
On “Crown of Love,” he sings of a breakup and of lost love. Everyone tells him that love fades “if you let it,” and that “love was made to forget it,” but all he can think about is her and wants to go back to a time where they were both happy, but she tells him, “if you still love me, please forgive me, the crown of love has fallen from me,” essentially meaning that she can no longer love him and is sorry. The story isn’t really resolved, just like Gatsby, too consumed by returning to the past.
On the next track, “Wake Up,” the crowd favorite power ballad, Butler tries to remedy his situation like Nick trying to help Gatsby, “You can’t repeat the past.” However, unlike Gatsby, he’s learning to cope with it. He knows it’s going to be hard, but he’s beginning to become unconsumed by his past, looking ahead. Like Spike Jonze has said, “the past is just a story we tell ourselves,” which is what Win Butler comes to realize by the end of this, “I guess we’ll just have to adjust.”