The glove compartment
Is inaccurately named
And everybody knows it
So i’m proposing
A swift orderly change
‘Cause behind its door
There’s nothing to keep my fingers warm
And all i find
Are souvenirs from better times
Before the gleam
Of your taillights fading east
Yourself a better life.
–Death Cab For Cutie, from “Title and Registration”
So, I’m walking to work these days, after nearly ten years of commuting on my bicycle. It was a fitness choice. While I work hard first thing in the morning, climbing several considerable hills to campus, not all of it is uphill and I’m only on the bike for 20 minutes. Likewise, the ride home is mostly downhill.
Walking, at a brisk pace, it seemed to me, would be a better workout, and walking downhill is actual exercise, while cycling downhill is nothing but a joyride.
Anyway, along with the increased health benefits there’s the added luxury of getting to listen to my iPod during my walks, something, for safety reasons, I don’t do on my bicycle. And, while I listen to music through speakers throughout each and every day, listening with earbuds really allows me to hear the lyrics much more clearly, often revealing hidden treasures.
I love the opening lines (above) of Title and Registration, from Death Cab For Cuties’ 2003 album Transatlanticism. Ben Gibbard is a wonderful writer. He really takes his time with details, metaphors and minutiae, a kind of impressionism, I’d call it.
The entire first stanza of Title and Registration, playfully, does not give you any indication as to what the song is about or where it’s heading, and when the word ’cause starts off the second stanza, heralding some kind of explanation, we get this lovely, indirect image of a glove compartment void of gloves, both literally and figuratively, the latter a symbol of the cold reality of lost love.
Funny thing: As I was walking along, listening to this wonderful song, I realized as it ended that I actually wanted to know what Gibbard might suggest as a more accurate name for glove compartment.