Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity

Emerging out the door of the pub on winter night, you bow your head and tighten your shoulders to keep the chill at bay. A few lilting steps might catch a dusting of snow. It takes a minute or so before the stars on the horizon catch your eye. It’s a crisp clear night. Swinging your head quickly upwards the stars take your breath away. The Milky Way is massive and scrawled across the sky.

No song captures that feeling as well as Built to Spill’s Randy Described Eternity from their 1997 classic Perfect from Now On. A minute of slow, slightly off kilter guitar opens suddenly into full, expansive sheets of sound. The song kind of hits you in the chest. The lyrics themselves attempt to describe the longest time imaginable, but the feeling is actually one of infinite space. The guitar melodies are complex, layered and looped, creating an impression of boundlessness. In the repeated line “stop making that sound,” the sparse story even includes the requisite “shut up” for your friend who has failed to notice the sky and is chattering on about something irrelevant. After a night at the pub when the stars catch your eye and you look breathlessly up in wonder, this is the song that should be playing.

Author: mcshanahan

Science education researcher and writer

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