An ecstatic song in the face of DESPAIR

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the great New York band that Amy and I saw this spring, have a new video out for their song “Despair.” They shot it on top of the Empire State Building with the full support of the owner, who deemed the song “uplifting.” I think there is more to it than that: to me it feels like a kind of Greek-play ecstatic summoning of despair in order to see beyond it.

If you’ve ever despaired, loved, or love NYC, I hope you will take five minutes to watch the video:

Here is the first verse:

Don’t despair
You’re there
From beginning to middle to end
Don’t despair
You’re there through my wasted days , you’re there through my wasted nights
Oh despair you’ve always been there, you’ve always been there, you’ve always been there,
You’re there through my wasted years, through all of my lonely fears
No tears will run through my fingers
Tears they’re stinging my eyes
No tears
If it’s all in my head there’s nothing to fear inside,
Through the darkness and the light
Some sun has gotta rise.


I would love to have the feeling the band got in this video of rocking out at the top of NYC, blasting past despair as the sun rises over a changed but still living city.


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