Musical Postcards: An Ode to Epistolary Art through Song

The power of song is unparalleled. Music can move us, bring us to tears, or make us dance with abandon. Within the diverse world of songwriting, some themes never lose their charm, one of which is the humble postcard. As quaint tokens from bygone eras, postcards often serve as symbols of longing, adventure, nostalgia, and unspoken sentiments in songs. This article explores some notable songs about postcards and how they encapsulate the human condition in their narratives.

1. “Postcards from Italy” by Beirut (2006)

Zach Condon, under his stage name Beirut, takes listeners on a nostalgic journey with this charmingly whimsical song. “Postcards from Italy” utilizes the postcard as a metaphor for memories, longing, and the passage of time. It paints the picture of a youthful, idealistic journey through Italy, where every experience was noteworthy enough to be sent home on a postcard. The song evokes a poignant sense of nostalgia that tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who has ever yearned for simpler times or distant lands.

2. “Postcard” by Steven Wilson (2011)

Steven Wilson, a maestro of progressive rock, uses the postcard as a symbol of quiet desperation and unspoken words in “Postcard”. The song is a mournful lament of regret and unexpressed feelings, with a postcard serving as a painfully inadequate medium for expressing profound sadness and isolation. The lyrics and the melancholic melody together encapsulate the protagonist’s struggle to communicate their overwhelming emotions.

3. “Postcards from Paris” by The Band Perry (2010)

In “Postcards from Paris”, the popular American country group, The Band Perry, employs the postcard as a symbol of unrequited love and missed opportunities. The song’s narrative revolves around receiving a postcard from a former love who is now happily vacationing in Paris. This piece captures the deep-rooted human feeling of regret and the ‘what if’ that often accompanies lost love.

4. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd (1975)

Although not explicitly about postcards, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd carries a similar sentiment – it’s essentially an audio postcard sent out to a missing friend. It’s a deeply emotional piece, reflecting on feelings of disconnection, longing, and the desolation that comes with absence. The line “we’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year” is one of the most memorable and quoted in rock history, emphasizing the endurance of longing and memory.

5. “Postcard” by First Aid Kit (2018)

The Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit use the postcard as a metaphor for a one-sided relationship in their song “Postcard”. It speaks of the protagonist’s efforts to reach out and communicate through postcards, but receiving silence in return. It’s a poignant commentary on unreciprocated feelings and the strength required to move on.

6. “Postcard” by Jukebox the Ghost (2010)

Jukebox the Ghost’s “Postcard” explores the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship. It speaks of the postcards written but never sent, symbolizing the disconnection and unexpressed feelings that can arise when physical distance separates loved ones.

These songs about postcards are an interesting exploration of how such a simple item can carry complex emotions and symbolize aspects of human experiences. They serve as reminders of the power of songwriting to translate common objects into profound emotional narratives. In the end, whether it’s a tale of unrequited love, distant travels, or nostalgia for simpler times, the postcard proves to be an enduring motif in music, encapsulating universal human emotions that continue to resonate with listeners worldwide.

Bonus

Others songs that feature postcards or the idea of sending/receiving postcards in their lyrics or themes:

“Postcards from Richard Nixon” by Elton John

In this song, Elton John presents a historical perspective using the concept of postcards.

“Postcards From Far Away” by Coldplay

This is an instrumental piece, but the title evokes imagery of receiving a postcard from a distant place.

“Postcard from 1952” by Explosions in the Sky

Again, this is an instrumental song, but its title and overall feeling can be related to a nostalgic postcard from the past.

“Postcard to Nina” by Jens Lekman

This song tells a story where Jens has to pretend to be someone’s boyfriend, and it’s written as if it’s a postcard to that person.

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