“Sundown” – The Fashion Focus

What is that noise in the beginning? Man, I don’t even know. We are getting to the point in the sf59 catalogue where I may no longer be able to accurately identify instruments. Is it a synth? Is it a bass with crazy effects? Who can say? It sounds like the auditory representation of the way a cat moves when he first thinks he is in trouble and then when he knows for certain he is in trouble and scurries off in haste.

Maybe that is an appropriate beginning to this song since this song is about being in trouble. This is our first entry about a sf59 “spooky song”. The spooky song becomes a standard trope in later years but this will be our first foray into one on this blog. I love the spooky songs. Maybe having cats in the house has attuned me to things that are just a bit evil.

After that weird intro noise, we get a strong drum beat and JM’s rumbling baritone announcing “This is the sundown.” The lead guitar starts out methodical and intentional. With all that reverb and the slight waver in the notes, you can’t tell if you’ve landed at a drunken luau or a ’50s horror film. Maybe someone did some crossover fan fiction of a late ’50s Elvis Presley movie with a Vincent Price movie, you know, that kinda thing. Then the second part of the first verse kicks in. The notes descend. That schizophrenic synth starts running around in the background. It is menacing. We are definitely in spooky territory now.

Your bet is lost
You’re fading slow
Sundown, the dark has laid you low

One of the main differences in the lyrics of this album compared to previous albums is that the focus has shifted (and I didn’t even mean that as a pun, really). In previous albums, JM mostly wrote inward. The songs were either about internal emotions or about people who stirred his internal emotions. The singer is always a character in the song. In this album we see JM write about other people. This song is about someone the singer has observed and he’s not going to hold back on his judgments about it.

A rite to save your own
The blackness fiend will take you on

These lines remind me of teenage witch curses sworn in the dark of night while everyone is wearing pajamas. And it makes me laugh. I can’t help it. Then I remember the time that some of my high school friends had a sleepover with activities that included witch curses, tarot card readings, summoning the dead with a homemade Ouija board and huffing Glade. One of the girls huffed too deeply and died that night. But I don’t want to write a post about that. I’ve stopped laughing though. It really is getting creepy around here.


The “sundown” is a metaphor for the light going out of a life of one who has chosen darkness. They are in trouble now and you can hear the darkness creeping in the music. It seems this person’s fate is sealed according to the singer.

Your slipping heart
A gray shadow
Sundown, the dark has laid you low

A rite to save your own
A rite to save your soul
A rite to save your own
The blackness fiend will take you on

The singer continues his proclamations about the future of this person. As I am listening to the words, all I can think is that this song was written by someone young, someone who believes that good and evil are as distinguishable as light and dark. It doesn’t seem as simple as all this to me. I have lived enough to know how subtle evil may be and how it can creep up into your life without even sounding like a spooky luau at all.

I’ve also lived long enough to learn a thing or two about grace. There is no offer of grace in this song, just punishment and torment. Maybe your understanding of grace expands as you learn the subtly of evil and how easily it may ensnare a person. Maybe those realizations go hand in hand. At least it helps to do some living first before you make your proclamations of judgment.

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