The Legionnaire’s Lament


I believe that this is the first song by The Decemberists that I ever heard. I may be wrong and there may have been some other before, but this is the one that I sat up and noticed. I think it popped up on some esoteric radio program, probably something on NPR. The details are hazy. All I recall was loving it and not knowing what it was. I didn’t find out what it was until a long time later, but I held on to the memory of it as ‘that one song that really struck me’. It was one of those cases when I could hardly believe that anything could be so good, and then feeling even more struck that something so good could be on the radio. I thought, surely it must be some fluke, some accident of fate, that this song is on the radio, because this song is quite simply, too good to be on the radio. That sort of lightning bolt moment doesn’t happen very often. In fact, the only other time I had a similarly strong reaction was the first time I heard Lady Gaga sing Poker Face. Fortunately indeed, I did eventually end up hearing The Decemberists again, as they have wound up being inexplicably popular and well known. It turned they have many songs that rival this one in wit, intelligence, and elevated vocabulary. This one will just always be special because I carried it in my head for so long without knowing from whence it came or if I would ever hear it again.

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