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This Day: February 26

February 26, 2010

On this day in 1848, Marx & Engels published “The Communist Manifesto”. I’ve not up on my revolutionary politics, but who hasn’t met a little revolutionary in their life.

The narrator in Belle And Sebastian’s song Marx and Engels claims he has: or is he just ascribing a brush-off from a girl to presumed politics? Not for the first time a Belle And Sebastian song works on several levels, especially with lines like these:

That the girl just wants to be
Left alone with Marx and Engels for a while

I love the idea the “while” may simply be her time in a launderette reading a pamphlet, or simply a phase in her life. Maybe the source of the narrator’s melancholy is knowing her politics will be doomed as she grows into an unhappy, middle-class capitalistic life? Has he been through this himself?

Or maybe his sadness is caused by her politics preventing a dreamt “idyllic relationship”? Even the paraphrased Mark and Engel’s, sung in the background by Sarah Martin, could be a deliberate misuse, press-ganged into relationship politics, or internal paranoia. Maybe her politics is his invention.

In the end we will never know, but with such a Belle and Sebastian, the simple beauty of the sadness is enough.

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