Week 242: “Valediction” by Showroom


As the sun sets on another year, I’m reminded that I have no idea how sunsets work.

Sunsets are one of those everyday phenomena that seem so simple until you try to explain it to a small child. You tell them it’s complicated, fumble over a few science-y sounding words, and then invent something about an angel spilling spaghetti sauce on the clouds.

Well, thanks to the internet, I now have something approaching a proper explanation, in case a small child decides to tug on my shirt one evening and ask me about it.

It’s all about the atmosphere, you see. As sunlight passes through the atmosphere, it bounces off all the air molecules and other tiny particles in the air, and the light is quite scattered by the time it reaches your eye. This happens regardless of the time of day, but when the sun is close to the horizon, it’s got more particles to get through before reaching your eye. Because of the angle at which you’re viewing it, there’s more atmosphere to scatter the light. The only wavelengths that manage to get to you are the yellowy-reddish-orange types. There are other wavelengths, but the atmosphere doesn’t let them through.

So that’s the internet’s explanation. Now where was I going with this? Oh yeah.

The sun is setting on another year. As you look back on 2014, what you see will depend on the atmosphere in your brain. If you’re looking back and only seeing the failures and disappointments, the sunset will be drab and muted. But if you let the memory particles in your brain do their work, you might be treated to a richer, more colourful view.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The voice. Showroom was a Toronto-based band that was as brilliant and short-lived as a sunset. I miss them, and I’m not the only one. One of my favourite things about them was the lead singer’s powerful voice.

2. The guitar. My other favourite thing about them was the guitar. It’s tough to get a “full” sound with just one guitarist, but Showroom did it with a unique, shimmering guitar tone.

3. The title. I knew what a “valedictorian” was, but I didn’t know that “valediction” was the simple act of saying farewell. That’s the second thing the internet has taught me today.

Recommended listening activity:

Waiting for the sun to rise.

Buy it here.