The Weepies


PQ  Sirens doesn’t dwell in the sadness, but instead in the empowering nature of relationships and the healing that can come from making music.

The Weepies, a duo of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen, recently released Sirens after a very challenging year. Deb and Steve, the parents of three young children, together faced Deb’s diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent months of treatment. Sirens doesn’t dwell in the sadness, but instead in the empowering nature of relationships and the healing that can come from making music.

When they cover the Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne tune “Learning to Fly,” there is a new gravity to this song about learning to fly, as we hear the undercurrent of fear.

Some say life will beat you down, break your
heart, steal your crown
So I started out for god knows where I guess
I’ll know when I get there
I’m learning to fly around the clouds

The title song effectively mashes the mythological Sirens who call out to sailors, causing them to crash and lose their lives, with the sirens of ambulances. The sirens singing in the street remind us of the fragility of life and pose the question of who they are calling for. Most of us keep moving through each day without facing the possibility of how our lives could end and, even more, how someone we love could be removed from our lives. When we drive past one more car accident, we rarely think that we were only seconds or minutes away from that being us. Sirens, when set in its context, forces you to consider how your life would be changed forever by an event of this nature.

I have been listening to this album for a few weeks. I didn’t instantly attach myself to these songs in ways that I do with some albums. I often find myself singing or hammering out the tunes on my guitar with those that I easily connect with, but with Sirens, I eventually began to sense the hope that remained within each tune.

One evening during this time, I watched a disc of the movie Still Alice, which I didn’t have a chance to see when it was first released. As other reviewers have noted, it is a well-told story, but I couldn’t shake the idea of what it means to begin to loose your memory. It is the drowning of the memories of those you have loved and known, of what has made your life so rich, that robs so much of what it means to be human. Lest I get too nostalgic about all of these memories I could lose, I need to remember, along with “River from the Sky,” that I have also let a lot of friends just drift away.

Friends I’ve had from younger days
Mostly have been washed away
Time’s a river so they say
And then you drown

The wistful musings of “Ever Said Goodbye” remind us of the lost chances at love, which may still haunt our memories.

You said I’d leave you
And go off to other lands
You said with a smile
That one day I’d make you cry
I don’t know why I ever said goodbye

While I don’t expect to hear “Sunflower” used anytime soon in a wedding, it sings of the stubbornness of love that seems to be asked of all who use traditional wedding vows. Through the possible greyness of life,

When you’re in the dark
And you need a spark
I’ll be your sunflower
A flint of yellow, take me in at night
I’ll be your sunflower

and hopes to grow in the heart of the other:

If there’s a place to grow in your heart
Let me know
I’ll be your sunflower.

The simple tune “My Little Love” has no groundbreaking narrative to add to the canon of love songs, but nevertheless it reflects the nature of love that passes with a smile and the gaze of a lover.

Tears fall when we part
Though mostly they are mine
I keep you in my heart
So you’re not hard to find

Deb is in remission and cancer-free. That part of the frightful journey seems to be over, but the memory surely remains in the fabric of this music. I recommend you offer someone you love “Sunflower” and then sit down and take a journey through this story of pain, fear, and hope. I’m sure I will get a chuckle from my wife when she hears “Early Morning Riser,” since just like my father before me I wake early every day without the assistance of an alarm. But it is indeed those memories that we cherish and miss.