2 of 69: The only Sun I ever knew/ Was the Beautiful one that was You
"I Don't Believe in the Sun."
Only two songs in and it's already come to this. It's come to 'went aways,' 'nevers,' and 'given up and dies.' It's come to astronomical revisionism. Not only has the world been turned upside-down, the heavens are in a state of disrepair. And all because he's just not that into you.
Although that is slightly unfair. This isn't the indignant anger and frustration of putting yourself out on a limb, of asking someone out and being rejected. That would easier to swallow. No, this is the deep gloom of being loved, of actually getting in and finding a place for yourself, of being shined upon for a time, and then being rejected. This shit hurts.
And this is the first time on the album that the listener gets a real taste of Merritt's broken basset hound voice. A voice that really feels like it could keep the Sun from rising. He says he doesn't believe in the Sun and when I hear him I'm inclined to agree. Even the moon and stars aren't safe. You took them all with you, you son of a bitch. But again, this isn't a song about resentment. It's about longing. This person doesn't want to rewrite the heavens because you left. This person still thinks you are beautiful.
There is something kind of wonderful how Merritt tips the romantic universals that poets have harnessed from the Sun (or more often the Moon) and parlays them into something personal and specific. Here Love is the fundamental right of all people, it "shine[s] down on everyone." Yet the singer's Sun is an individual one, "the only one he ever knew" the "one that never shone on other guys." In other words, just because you have felt the sun shine, doesn't mean you understand a damn thing about how it felt like shining on him.
There is only one moment where I feel like the singer might be finding their way through this, one crack in their armor of romantic melancholy:
"Since you went away/
it's nighttime all day/
and it's usually raining too."/
That last little addition sounds, to my ear, like a half-hearted attempt at a joke. Merritt is winking at himself because he knows how ridiculous it sounds to believe the Sun won't ever shine on him anymore, that this blackout is a cruelty perpetuated specifically for him. There is a lightness in the last line that betrays a subtle enjoyment of being left in the cold. As if Merritt is almost perpared to admit that feeling this shitty might, in the long run, be a good thing. 'Cause the only way you get to night is through the day, and with a little astronomical tinkering, hey, we might be able to rig up another Sun sometime after all. But not too soon.
I give this song an "adoration" (4 out of 6)