146. Dead Man in a Hotel (Email)


This is an email my mother sent me recently.  Yeah.  I’m singin’ an email.  She will update me on various happenings in my hometown and such.  She used to work for the mayor but has since retired and is now a librarian: a dream she’s had a for a long time, and I think she is very happy.  She has a really funny way of writing her messages to me, and I love getting them.  (I’m now wondering if this is the last email I’ll get since I’m using it for a song… yikes…).

Russ has a manager for the hotel and he noticed that the dead man stopped collecting his mail, so the manager stuck it under the door.  Days went by and the dead guy didn’t get his mail from under the door so Russ and the manager unlocked the apartment door and found it was chained on the inside.  They were very afraid of what was inside so Russ called the police.  What they found inside was the dead guy in a little room among all his hoarded junk.  Russ says he was a packrat.  Anyway, they think he was dead at least seven days.  Russ said the smell wasn’t bad but the mess he is cleaning up is.  They could find no relatives or friends, so the state took over and buried his body. That’s sad.  Russ said he was a “cipher.”  But he loved to collect frogs – all types of frogs– big little stuffed ceramic.  And then he finally croaked…

The guitar part I have STOLEN from a FREAKING awesome song off of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper’s seven-inch record (and slowed by my record player) called Sunday Shoes.  I recorded the intro, cut and looped it to create the base for this song.  Slowing Lady Lambs voice on this recording is awesome, by the way: she sounds like some sweet old gospel singer.

(And someone told me once that, quote: “Fade outs are for people who can’t write endings.”  I will let you ponder on that.)

This is an important experience for me lyrically. Lots of words.  And a story.  Unusual for me.

This American Life has done a story about this very topic… it’s so sad to leave this world and have no family or friends to take care of your final business… the state has to clean you up and bury you.  The people who show up at the graveside are a few city workers.  I’ve tried to find a link to the episode but can’t remember what it’s called.

May you have a beautiful Memorial Day remembering those you’ve loved and lost…

Dead Man in the Hotel

5 thoughts on “146. Dead Man in a Hotel (Email)

  1. holy crap i adore this so much. it’s a bit old-regina-spektor-esque in terms of storytelling & using the vernacular rather than trying to make things poetic or rhyme. such a great exercise. i hope you play this one live.

  2. just heartbreaking in the right way. i usually hate repetition, but the guitar loop, slow and deliberate, works very authentically here. i like the repeated lyrical lines.

  3. Wow Emily. When I was reading your description I was thinking…hmm, how will she pull this one off? It is really wonderful. I love the melody and rhythm which fits the lyrics…the many, many lyrics so well. Very cool.

  4. Wow. This is beautiful. I love how the lyrics came to you from an outside source, but they totally work structurally within the framework of the rhythm and melody you chose. It’s delicate but very powerful. Beautiful but so tentative. I really love this one.


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