The Most Heartwrenching Song I Know

All the R.E.M.-listening I’ve been doing this week is inspiring me to go back into the vaults for other music I like and haven’t perhaps thought about in a while.

That’s how I came across this one:

I remember being affected by this song years ago – the poignancy of it. It hasn’t lost its power – far from it. I actually might even go so far as to say that this is another song (like R.E.M.’s entire canon!) that, strangely, doesn’t age. Instead of feeling dated, “Veronica” seems rather to have gotten more nuanced and richer with its years.

Maybe I just needed to mature to really grasp the nuances – because, yes this is a very poignant song. It’s sad to consider dementia and the fate of some elderly people (ending up alone and in some facility where, like Veronica, they are called by “a name that they never get right – and if they don’t then nobody else will.”)

I did get that back then, way-back-when. But I realize now that there’s more to it.

This isn’t just a sad song. This might actually be the most heartwrenching song I know.

The part that particularly gets to me is the part where Veronica, lost in the past, is remembering a love – and “she spoke his name out loud again.” This isn’t just about love and loss. It’s about a lifetime full of experiences – and the human value of that.

It’s so easy to look at somebody and size them up on superficialities (she’s old…he’s too young…etc. And it’s certainly not limited to age) – and then dismiss them based on the assumptions those lead to. It’s easy, much too easy, to forget that inside everyone – every single person on the entire planet – is a world of memories and emotions. Every single person on the entire planet started out a baby and has lived through millions of experiences since – unique experiences, comprised of millions of choices, and triumphs and mistakes. Everyone loves and everyone suffers. Everyone has dreams.

And that’s worth something. That’s valuable. That’s what connects us all.

It’s not just a shame when that’s forgotten. It’s not just sad.

It’s profoundly tragic…and wasteful.

“Veronica” makes me think about that.


4 thoughts on “The Most Heartwrenching Song I Know

  1. It is true, when you are a kid you really believe you know, just know what heartache and pain are about. Later when you listen to the songs again you pick up on words or verses that change the whole jest of the song. This happened when I started singing lullabies to my sons. I sang, “You are my Sunshine,” a happy sounding tune, until I sang it all the way through till the end, and then I almost, ‘hung my head and I cried.” How did the words to that song get by me as a child? I think it might have been the happiness in the title and the jaunty tune that makes it sound so…perky. Great post.


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