Song Thoughts: Don’t Worry, Desmond Dekker

I’ve loved the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ work for many a year now, and just like with all the other things I love, I tend to over-examine them. I like to tell myself that their work is heavily narrative, telling snatches of stories in very approachable, memorable ways. Music conveys things the words don’t, and repetition helps underscore and emphasise things within this space. It’s all very interesting to me for a band that is fronted by a man who sounds like he gargles hammers.

Today, I was struck, as I listened to an old favourite, about why a song felt strange to me.

Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker is a piece about, as best as I can tell, a platonic breakup. It’s a song about two people – not even necessarily two men, though Dickie Barrett’s voice does help kinda pull it towards the idea of at least one dude being involved, and I’m inclined of late to examine the male platonic relationship thanks to Jeb – who had a relationship, which at some incident, ended. But the song isn’t a wistful, mourning story, like Adele’s Somebody Like You, it’s about the wistful distance you feel from your experiences and your anger. It’s about how what’s left of the friendship, what’s at the end of it, and oh, it did end, is memories of shared interests, of laughter and joy, and, of course, those precious items, given or loaned, and never returned: The Desmond Dekker and Clash records.

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