The Buildings, Then the Trees

by Sjur Lyseid




















I breathe in.

I had written something else for this song, but it seems so mundane now. Like everything else it took on a new sense of insignificance. And prophecy, all at once. But finding a language for how much things have changed with this slo-mo apocalypse is impossible.


I breathe out.

A language for how I feel so privileged. To have shelter, to have a family, to live in such a rich society with all of its safety nets. How I think about those who don't. How this privilege doesn't make me any less lost and confused with what's happening.


I breathe in. 

For how this video is the very last thing I did at the studio before Oslo went into near total lockdown. How it seemed at the time like such an awkward thing to do, to film myself singing all alone one late night. How a week later, everyone wallows in their own solitude, how mostly every musician on the planet is posting recordings from their living rooms.


I breathe out.

For how I take my daily night walks while I still can, how I put my headphones on like I always do, how I can't find any music that can infuse meaning into this whole situation. How this most human of impulses, to attach meaning and patterns to things, is still at work in my brain.


I breathe in.

For how I strangely feel more alive than ever. How we put all our efforts and energy into making our kids feel safe, while we worry about how the foreseeable future shrunk so much in just one week. How my daughter said "I'll always remember this beautiful spring day". How the little one just started crawling around the living room floor. How we have so much love and time for each other, now that we don't have to spread as thin. How so much still depends on perspective.


I breathe out.

For how the record will still come out in the midst of all this. How insignificant that feels. How that might change once we're through the tunnel. How it might not. How we have to go on with our plans, with what seems like our petty little lives, with the futile songs we sing, with our friendships, with our attempts to come out better and stronger on the other side. How nothing's bottomless.


How we should try to articulate things as best we can, and seek forgiveness when we try to put it into words, but fail. Forgive me.

I can still breathe.


I touched ground and let my brain make its demands 

Sometimes you know they aren't true

Beneath the neon signs I saw shadows holding hands

Blinked twice, then reviewed


Here on the south side of the park 

there are tourist traps and dive bars

We know, we've walked these streets before

Without knowing what we're looking for

In this city that you've claimed as yours

Just to dull our senses to the core


But forgive them and please pretend

That you don't share my growing sentiment

that all of this soon ends

And forgive me if you can still breath

Though there's this itching in your throat 

that you can't shake or even try to put at ease


Now there's a tug-o-war

straining on your vocal chords

And only spite is slipping out

But forgive those foul and bitter nouns

Forgive the verbs you can't pronounce

Forgive the buildings, then the trees


And forgive me

I can still breath

Though there's this itching in my throat

that I can't shake or put at ease

And forgive them

They're still your friends

Send those memories into orbit

Let's watch while they burn as they descend


'Cause by this time last year

everything will seem younger

And you will be on to me the way I'm onto you

By this time last year

Every beat will feel stronger

And you will make peace

With the buildings,

then the trees