There is something about romanticized childhood that jars me. I don't find idyllic Norman Rockwell images of kids playing or painfully cute depictions of chubby child angels at all appealing. It is a dishonest depiction of children foisted upon them by adults crafting the natural inclination to protect children into a fantasy. More than that, it's a stupifying dishonesty, grossly simplifying a realm of human life blessed and cursed by the same strong emotional interactions as any other. Just because children lack experience does not make them innocent. Some perpetrate their own petty crimes and monstrous catastrophes, scaled down to their level of the world but no less existent. That doesn't rule out the positive aspects of emotional expression. The pure, trusting love they show, their intense curiosity, their charming whimsy, and their unique perspectives should surely be cherished, but not without belittling these qualities by making them somehow other from the rest of humanity.

Because that concept is difficult, and sometimes painful, one doesn't see it expressed often. I'm weary of anything marketed as 'childlike', because often enough it is like no child I've ever known. It's certainly not impossible to capture the spirit of a child with the proper respect and reverence. The quartet Múm has mastered it. From beginning to end of their seminal album Finally we are no one, they imbued it with the joy, fear, sadness, and wonder of all children. I can listen to them and remember, in hazy and cryptic detail, sudden snatches of my otherwise lost childhood. Running with my arms outstretched through the swirling leaves of an Autumn-graced park. Slapping the water, choking on it, swallowed by it as I started to drown on the deep end of the swimming pool. Crawling with my head turned downwards and laughing as floor became ceiling. They are memories without context or detail, but awash in emotion. The untempered, unrefined emotions of a child, firings of young neurons racing feverishly toward maturity. Múm can bring this back for me. Dopey Hallmark greeting cards cannot.

Green Grass of Tunnel introduces Finally we are no one with a proud declaration of Múm's intent. Starting with an otherworldly windchime, a series of dancing rhythms and melodies rush forward. Xylophone, see-n-say, piano, a lone violin singing a beautiful snatch of lullaby to sudden stillness, scatterbrained clicking jumping back in again... it's almost too much to follow. Somewhat like a hyperactive toddler. Only about halfway through this constant variation do Múm's twin vocalists intone their nursery rhyme lyrics over the background. The images are that of a child, brilliantly disregarding all notions of sense to craft something beautiful and naïvely symbolic. In this virtuoso performance, Múm also gathers all the scattered elements of Finally we are no one's story, providing a crayon colored roadmap to the rest of the album. In such simple lyrics, it's amazing that such meaning could be gleaned. Somewhat like the words of child; is this deep wisdom or innocent folly? Either way, it is gorgeous to behold.

down from my.. ceiling
      drips great noise.


                                   it drips on my head through a hole in the roof.

         behind these two hills heeere..
             there's a pool.

     And when I'm swimming in
                              through
                                      a
                                         tunnel....
       I shut my eyes.
                        Inside the cabin I make sounds
                     In through the tubes I send this noise.

         behind these two hills heeere..
            fall asleep.

      And when I float in
                          green
                                grass
                                     of
                                       tunnel...
        It flows back.

down from my.. ceiling
      drips great noise.


                                   it drips on my head through a hole in the roof.

         behind these two hills heeere..
             there's a pool.

     And when I'm swimming in
                              through
                                      a
                                         tunnel....
       I shut my eyes.

green grass of tunnel, lyrics and music by Múm, from the album Finally we are no one. Copied content runs to 109 words, while explication is at about 500 words. This fits within the fair use guidelines of the E2 Copyright Changes.

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