Like “True Romantic,” “Ghost of the Gang” reminds me of Amy’s solo stuff, specifically Prom. Surely you’ve noticed it, too. It’s about the past and youthful friendships in the same way that those songs on Prom are, but it’s also about suicide. What is up with all the suicide on this album, by the way? That’s its own blog post, and this one is just about how much I like listening to “Ghost of the Gang.”
When I first started listening to Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, I had already heard a handful of the songs (“Fleet of Hope,” “Sugar Tongue,” “What Are You Like,” and “Second Time Around”), but of the ones I hadn’t heard, “Ghost of the Gang” stood out. It’s rather upbeat for a depressing song, but then, that’s how Prom is all the way through.
But is “Ghost of the Gang” a depressing song, after all? Amy is rarely explicitly depressing the way that Emily is. (See “Hope Alone.”) Of course, the situation in “Ghost of the Gang” is not good. The narrator is contemplating suicide. I’m not sure that she actually wants to kill herself, but she is considering the phenomenon of suicide. It seems to be happening a lot to the people around her. That theme, then, gives the song an underlying depressing tone, but the overall mood of the narrative is not depressed.
The image of the narrator sitting in her car with her unlit cigarette (“wishing I could bum a light”) is especially powerful to me because I do most of my good thinking in my car, although not when it is stalled. Even though I like sleeping more than doing most anything else, there are days when I wish my commute to work was longer so that I could ponder over the Big Issues more deeply. (Yes, “Ghost of the Gang” qualifies as a Big Issue in my world. Are you really surprised?) I know it’s bad for the environment for my car to be running longer, but I just like to be in it driving and thinking. I would like it even more if the device that plays my iPod using the cigarette lighter would work properly.
I like it there at the end of “Ghost of the Gang” when she changes up the “bum a light” to “bum a ride.” Now she just wants to get out of thereâ€”out of the contemplative mood, out of the crushing nostalgia. I recognize the sentiment she is expressing in the urge to overindulge in recollection, and I get that it has to stop at some point. But I never want “Ghost of the Gang” to end.