Life Goes On (30 Days of Marc Cohn — Day 11)

“Life Goes On”
Join the Parade

This is one of those pop songs that have a catchy melody but when you stop to listen to the words, you say, “Wait, what?” It’s a pop song about dying, but it’s surprisingly upbeat. Marc is a little brutal here. Life goes on, no matter what we lose: Elvis, Jesus, your mother, your father, all your siblings. It just goes on. Indeed, it’s a bit relentless and uncaring: It just goes on, oblivious to our tears and our losses and how much it hurts to go on — and it doesn’t even miss a beat. (“Without your children down the line / The drum stays right in time).  It’s worse than that, actually.  Life won’t even notice when you pass: You might think it’s gonna stop just because you’re closing shop… Life goes on… Life goes on…

I’d like to say that there’s a hopeful end to the song but really, it’s pretty bleak.  I suppose there’s a comfort to be had in the implacability, the eternal renewal of life, but it’s thin soup.

Aside:  I generally love Marc Cohn’s songwriting but every once in a while, he puts out a clunker of a line.  In this song, it’s “Without the beggar or the King / Without every living thing. / Yeah, Life goes on.”  Um, without every living thing, life would not go on… there’d be nothing alive.  The line would scan as “without any given thing” and work better logically.


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