Song of the Week: “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend
Anyone who has struggled with addiction, or has ever been fated to love an addict, will instantly recognize in Vampire Weekend’s “Hannah Hunt” the sound of longing for grace, exemplified in the lyrics when Hannah and the song’s speaker make their way from Providence to Phoenix. Additionally, almost every lyrical phrase and word in “Hannah Hunt” yields a multiplicity of meanings and the song’s minimalist sound reflects the denuded soundscape of fear and hope. “Hannah Hunt” remains on that ghostly trajectory until the song sonically enlarges (at exactly 3:00) in this unpretentious cry: “If I can’t trust you then damn it Hannah/There’s no future, there’s no answer.” The moment encapsulates the beloved’s inability to will the healing of another. Meanwhile, when Hannah shreds The New York Times, the gesture shows how she’s unable to manage or conceive the world beyond her own suffering. As someone who has been clean and sober for over a year (while not a long time), I’ve been blessed by being shown the narrow path, which for me is the widest path, and lately – OK, nearly every minute for weeks – that path has been paved with the redemptive sound of Vampire Weekend’s “Hannah Hunt.”
John Ebersole is Poetry Editor of The Philadelphia Review of Books and hosts New Books in Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, storySouth, Battersea Review, Talking River, Bateau, Octopus, Western Humanities Review, HTMLGIANT, and elsewhere. Currently, he is assistant professor of English and directs the writing center at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
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