Music for the Apocalypse #21: Silent Running, Joan Baez

by Apocalypse Womble

So, this is the second glorious song recorded by Joan Baez for the Silent Running soundtrack – you can see the first, along with a synopsis of the film, here.

I get tingles every time I hear it. It starts out as a simple, hippytastic song about waiting for you man to come home with flowers in your hair and earth between your toes. Not an obvious choice for competent, self-reliant ladies to listen to in the post-apocalypse landscape, where survival is the first port of call. But as the song goes on the tone of regret and sadness seeps in. He’s not coming home; there are no flowers or happy endings anymore: ‘Tears of sorrow running deep/Running silent in my sleep’. It is a dream of past hopes that will never come true, innocent in their simplicity. This lady is on her own now.

Of course, in the film it’s from his perspective – a fantasy woman waiting for him at home that he will never go back to. By this point Lowell has taken the last forests of planet Earth and hidden them out of radio contact behind Saturn. He’s never going home; all he can hope for is that some day someone else will come out and find these habitats and restore the Earth. But we don’t have to take the male narratives as they are given. It’s a woman who’s singing, singing of her life, after goodness and love has left the world.

It can’t all be power chords. Sometimes you need to sit down and connect with your emotions. Sit together around your fire on a post-apocalypse evening and share memories of all that has been lost – sing a bit of Joan Baez.

 – Apocalypse Womble out.

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