Dance Music


 The Sunset Tree




the Mountain Goats



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Dinu Lipatti's Bones

Dance Music is the fifth song on the album The Sunset Tree.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Alright I'm on Johnson Avenue
In San Luis Obispo
And I'm five years old or six maybe
And indications that there's something wrong with our new house
Trip down the wire twice daily

I'm in the living room watching the Watergate hearings
While my stepfather yells at my mother
Launches a glass across the room straight at her head
And I dash upstairs to take cover
Lean in close to my little record player on the floor
So this is what the volume knob's for
I listen to dance music
Dance music

Okay so I'm seventeen years old
And you're the last best thing I got going
But then the special secret sickness starts to eat through you
What am I supposed to do? No way of knowing

So I follow you down your twisting alleyways
Find a few cul-de-sacs of my own
There's only one place this road ever ends up
And I don't wanna die alone
Let me down, let me down, let me down gently
When the police come to get me
I'm listening to dance music
Dance music

Comments by John Darnielle About this Song[edit | edit source]

  • "This next song is about God's plan for the salvation of all of us. Really." -- 2005-10-31 - Knitting Factory - New York, NY
  • "This is actually the town [in which] I wrote this song." -- 2013-10-08 - Union Chapel - London, England
  • "This is a song called 'Dance Music' that takes place in two disparate points in my life, and the first one I'm five, and we've—the divorce is fresh, and we've just moved across town, and it was when I first started to notice, sort of, cracks in the edifice of the new home, and then the next one, the second half of the song, I'm a teenager, and I'm sort of exploring my own, uh, my own ways of wrecking myself." -- NPR interview
  • "What do I say as a guy who had the dubious pleasure of seeing his mother beaten by my stepfather about these songs that are about... I mean, I've been there... This is another one of those uptempo numbers about domestic violence." -- 2009-02-25 - Swedish American Hall - San Francisco, CA
  • "I want to send this out for anybody whose families gaslight them. I believe you." -- 2016-10-26 - Downtown Artery - Fort Collins, CO
  • Story About Writing 'Dance Music' for The Atlantic
  • "I want to give some kind of warning to people, if I'm playing a song that is in this realm it can get a little weird for people, especially for people who haven't, that don't come from the house I do, 'So you talk about that outside your therapist's office', OK cool. I do. So here's the thing that happened, my stepfather dies and my relationship with him was complex, he was an abusive person, but I also learned of what I learned from him, we have these relationships with people who harm us and it was very intense. The thing that happens when that person for you dies, it's not like the next day, well now I'm going to get to work, you sort go into a strange space, like an eighties movie or something. Flashing lights on the walls and stuff and you live in a different universe to people. If you're waiting for that day, when that day does come it's really something. But for me, that happened and I went on tour, 2003 was the year, very very intense tour, and touring... I mean, I'm not complaining, I love the life that I live, but if you're not centered emotionally, tour will 100% kick you over the ledge. You need extra therapy before you go on tour, because you're moving around every single day, you see a lot of people and you go these events, if you're actually doing your job you're doing something cathartic every night, you get pretty raw. More so if there's been some recent death of an important figure in your life. We're going from town to town, and we were parked in, like double parked in Paris, trying to get into a venue, it just happened. I'm just sitting there, people honking at you. I've been doing this for a week, stuff hashing out in the brain, I'm not sleeping, [...] And I wrote a bunch of stuff. Some of it was lyrics, some of it was just stuff. [...] Then we get to do a Peel session, with John Peel, one of the greatest people who ever lived. [...] Lot of bands just play what they're touring when they get to their Peel session, but of course I stand in eternal judgment of these bands. They should play new stuff in a Peel session, stuff nobody's ever even heard. But all I had was a bunch of new lyrics, managed to get all four I was making up chords as fast as I can. [...] This was one of the lyrics that I wrote in the van, standing, sitting outside the Paris venue, waiting to get in and and laid down some quick chords to and made a song, John Peel this is for you." -- 2019-11-15 - O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire - London, England

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