Songs that Make My Eyes Sweat: “Down Colorful Hill” by Red House Painters

By Audrey Behm, Contributor 

As the drums that lay under this track roll in, feelings of solitude and loneliness set the foundation for this nearly 11-minute ballad. The listener is made painfully aware that it all begins with a feeling rather than with words, which parallels the journey of losing love; it begins with a feeling, maybe not even one you can pinpoint.

Maybe you aren’t exactly sure why you’re feeling what you are, but the feeling is always there before the words are. The simplicity of the sound and lyrics throughout the entire song gives every listener space to fill in the gaps with personalized meaning, and these reasons alone are enough for this song to make your eyes sweat. 

The lyrics of this track clearly illustrate not wanting to confront the reality that someone no longer loves you or that maybe you never even felt the love at all in the first place. It’s easier to ignore almost anything when it exists purely as fleeting thoughts rather than ones tied to a string of spoken words. In the same way, it is much easier to push the fear of losing admiration aside and let hope take over.

“Losing the dream, face-to-face sleeping

Losing the dream, open mouth breathing

Where unadmired beings dread the due changes ahead.”

Sleeping in bed with another person seems to feel the most vulnerable of all moments in a relationship, but the vulnerability you feel in these moments is not something learned and mimicked with each person you make your bed with; it is only birthed from the sense of security someone lets you house in them. You are both lying chest to chest, sitting in your thoughts, waiting for your eyes to get heavy, not really aware of what might be going on in the other’s head but being too tired to ask. Maybe that’s how the crack in relationships form: being too tired to ask and caring too little to understand.

In those moments, right before you succumb to a deep spell of unconsciousness, your mind becomes the most vulnerable to the thoughts you want to expel and to the dreams you’re losing touch of. Maybe you’ll think of that time you did something stupid and embarrassing that no one else remembers. Maybe you’ll wish away the responsibility and fear of what the next day will bring. Sometimes you wish away the thought of knowing you are untethering the string you once attached to someone else, or maybe you’ll walk right up to the thought that they are letting you go, too, but you force yourself to turn around and walk away before you even let your mind finish painting the scene. 

A few months ago, when I first started brainstorming this column, I faced these unavoidable anxieties for what felt like the first time. I had drank too much wine for one person and was laying in my bed and crying into the keys of my laptop. It all began as a feeling, and then my mind attached it to the words I had been dreading.  Maybe at the time I was aware that the person next to me was also feeling the same way, which seems to hurt the most—except both of us were too cowardly to speak it into existence because we dreaded the changes that followed.

That night, I realized that sometimes people only serve a very temporary role in your life despite being able to become part of the segments that shape who you are for the remainder of time. You can sleep next to someone without ever really feeling their presence, but this song highlights the idea of realizing that the presence you once felt has now been filled in with merely the idea of the person you created. And the pain of this realization leaves a lump in your throat that you can never seem to swallow. The pain leading up to the end feels empty and detached, like you’re the only one crossing this bridge, and each step walking away feels louder than the last. 

As the climax begins, the whole world seems to stop. Every ounce of pain you’ve been ignoring has resurfaced, and the long and slow burn of lost love is finally starting to take effect. This song puts forth this realization that love is painfully unfair, the wrong love at least.  When you know it’s right, you just know, and the same goes for knowing it’s not right. The only way of truly knowing depends on our likeliness of believing our own clear conscious thought over the often-truthful anxieties our minds curate. 

“Prayers, prayers for success

Prayers, prayers, always die in time.”

The moment you realize that hope is no longer worth clinging to is the same moment everything that follows hope also dies. Until you face the realities of losing love, you’ll pray and wish, and then pray some more that things will change, telling yourself that they will change, that there is still a sliver of a chance that this will work itself out. But just like you and me, hope will die, and you’ll find yourself lying in bed at night, fixating on a single crack in the ceiling and realize how much time you wasted dreaming.

Listen here:

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