Rest for the Weary (30 Days of Marc Cohn – Day 19)

Rest for the Weary
The Rainy Season

One of the things I like about Marc Cohn is that his songs aren’t all about finding, having, and losing the girl. Every album includes very personal songs that nonetheless seem to be universal. I’m also struck by how well his songs, without generally being all that upbeat, convey a certain subtle, almost unreasonable, hopefulness. More than optimism, it’s faith that, despite all appearances, there is something wonderful in even the most mundane times.

For a while this song was a touchstone in my life. It doesn’t really reflect any details of my personal history but I was very moved by the thought that someday, there will be rest for the weary. I think it’s both telling and fantastic that he passes by “love for the lonely” so quickly and dwells on “rest for the weary”. A lot of the time, that’s what we hope for: Not a surplus of joy but a cessation of struggle — just quiet time to enjoy life and life’s blessings.

I hope there was some laughter
Cause I know there were some tears

That is just an amazing line. It captures the whole arc of a family’s life. It’s also genuinely sad, in that he knows there were tears but he is unsure of the laughter.

Now I’m just another traveler
On another winding road
I’m trying to walk some kind of line
I’m trying to pull some kind of load
Now sometimes I move real easy
Sometimes I can’t catch my breath
Sometimes I see my father’s footsteps
And man it scares me half to death

These are the lines that made the song resonate with me. No child of suicide can ever think about his parent’s death without wondering, at least once, if there’s any difference — if the same siren song will call out. You try to understand but at the same time, you fear understanding. You don’t want to think the choice was senseless, but you don’t want it to make sense, either. And you always worry, in some corner of your mind, that you might have made the same choice, that you might still. For me, it’s never been a strong urge but I know that I shy away from thinking about my father’s death in part for this reason.

Although it probably wasn’t written that way, this is why the song is hopeful, for me: It gives voice to a hope I have, which is that after everything, my father found peace and rest.

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