Song About Loss: “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem

"Someone Great" chronicles the messiness of grief and the difficulties of moving on

The American band LCD Soundsystem employs a unique style when it comes to their brand of electronic rock music. And their popular song “Someone Great” is a wonderful example of their music for a first-time listener.

“Someone Great” is a seemingly upbeat song. It features a xylophone, an instrument that always adds a comical or positive vibe. But the subject matter is actually somber. The lyrics are about the loss of a loved one and the range of feelings that arise in the person left behind. 

Album cover of LCD Soundsystem's "Sound of Silver" containing "Something Great"

Credit: fanart.tv

The song plays for about a minute and a half before the lyrics begin. They start with the following:

I wish that we could talk about it

But there, that’s the problem

With someone new I couldn’t start it

Too late, for beginnings

Singer-songwriter James Murphy is describing the pain of losing someone you’ve always confided in, whether that’s a spouse, a family member or a close friend. If the person you’ve always been open with and expressed your emotions to has died, where and to whom do you turn? It’s very difficult to trust someone new, especially with your feelings about the death of a loved one.

The second stanza describes the moment when Murphy learns about his loved one’s death:

I wake up and the phone is ringing

Surprised, as it’s early

And that should be the perfect warning

That something’s, a problem

He learns about the death from someone who calls him early in the morning. Surely, many people can relate to this experience — an early morning phone call is often a sign that something’s not right. Murphy also says that he saw it coming. Yet he also notes:

But nothing can prepare you for it

The voice, on the other end

Anyone who has experienced a sudden loss can empathize with this. Nothing can prepare you for the impending grief.

James Murphy of electronic group LCD Soundsytem singing "Something Great" into a microphone

Singer-songwriter James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem
Credit: spin.com

Murphy also recounts the difficulty of continuing daily life following the death of a loved one — an experience felt by many who’ve lost someone close to them.

There’s all the work that needs to be done

It’s late, for revision

There’s all the time and all the planning

And songs, to be finished

He realizes that life goes on. But he also acknowledges that it’s almost impossible to continue when you’re dealing with immense grief. The lyric “And it keeps coming” is repeated 16 times, in four different stanzas. It’s clear that “it” is the feeling of all-encompassing sadness that comes with grief.

“Someone Great” is a instrumentally uplifting. But the lyrics make it a perfect memorial song for a loved one who has died. The electronic repetition of the music provides a great vehicle for introspection. The revolving door of thoughts and emotions accompanying the death of a loved one can seem never-ending. And the way in which the song is arranged seems to emulate that experience.

Electronic music is not for everyone. But for those who enjoy it, this is a wonderful song about dealing with the loss of a loved one. The lyrics point to the fact that grief and loss are universal. We will all lose someone we love. And yet we can never prepare for it. All we can do is live through the ensuing grief.

You can find the lyrics to “Someone Great” here and watch a live performance of “Someone Great” below.

 

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