The lyrics refer to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It's one of my favorite kinds of songs--the kind where the upbeat music contradicts the serious subject matter. It's the language arts lover in me...she thrives on oxymorons and juxtapositions and irony. In this case, you have your protagonist in the song (do songs have protagonists?) trying to find some inner-optimism in the midst of an unfathomable calamity. Even when he's singing about the doom-ridden gray clouds rolling in, he does so with almost a cheery demeanor.
But I think I like the song even more because of a Doctor Who episode I watched awhile back called the "Fires of Pompeii."
In the episode, the doctor and his companion, Donna, travel back in time to Rome the day before Mount Vesuvius erupts. Here the doctor faces a huge moral dilemma. The eruption of the volcano is considered a fixed point in time, thus, he can not alter the course of history by warning or evacuating the citizens of Pompeii. But while there, he and Donna bond with a specific family--heightening their dilemma.
The family awaiting their impending doom
The Doctor agonizing over this dilemma
In the end (spoilers ahead) the doctor, in the spirit of cold logic, decides to leave the family behind to die. Donna pleads with him, and at the last possible second he saves the family and drops them off on the outskirts of the town to watch their city burn. I loved the underlying theme...the idea that some things can never be changed, but once in awhile being human means breaking the rules. It's like a friend of mine once said...sometimes you just want to look up into the sky and say, "Hey, it's not always easy down here in human land."
It's interesting because there are so many parallelisms between the song Pompeii and the episode "Fires of Pompeii," you would swear that the song was written for this episode, even though the two were released five years apart. Still, every time I hear this song now, I see that family standing up on the hillside, watching fire and ash rain down upon their beloved town. I see them closing their eyes, imagining that "nothing's changed at all...."
I guess that seems depressing, but it's not. I can explain this through a brilliant quote I heard several months ago. Okay, I have to admit that this one also comes from Doctor Who. I can't help it--for such a silly, un-logical show, it has a ton of great observations about life. Anyway, in the episode "Blink" (one of my favorites), a young woman, Sally Sparrow, is asked by her best friend why she is so attracted to a yard full of crumbled, weeping angel statues:
It's happy for deep people. I get this. It's not that emotionally-charged books or gut-wrenching music appeals to some inner-sad person in me--"happy" is actually my default personality. I think (as I've mentioned in the past) it's because the writer/artist in me likes to explore the highs and lows of the human emotional spectrum.
The song below, for example, is one of the most beautiful "happy for deep people" songs I've heard in the recent months (you can breathe a sigh of relief that this one isn't Whovian). When I listen to it, it doesn't make me feel sad at all. It just moves me and scratches some little emotional itch.
Oh, one more thing I left out about the Fires of Pompeii episode....
Yes, that is indeed the Doctor fighting off lava monsters with a bad ass...squirt gun. Hey, I never claimed it was a DEEP episode.