The End in the Beginning and the Beginning in the End

“And in each beginning dwells a magic” (“Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne”) is a line from the 1941 poem Steps (Stufen) by the German-Swiss writer Hermann Hesse. The poem is about saying good-bye, which appears to be one of the moments that you (belatedly) recall the beginning.

The Beatles – Hello Goodbye (1967):

A different take on the intimate connection between beginnings and endings can be found in the 1942 movie Casablanca. When you type the words “casablanca beginning” into youtube, the first search result you get is entitled “casablanca ending”. The events that had occured and that come to and end in the movie lay the foundations for the world-famous “beginning of a beautiful friendship”:

The final sentence of Casablanca is a recurring hopeful-humoristic theme in the 1998 Yugoslav movie “Black Cat, White Cat” – also in its final scene:

Hermann Hesse's quote suggests that all beginnings are equal in that they unequivocally harbor magic within. However, as we all know since George Orwell's 1945 Animal Farm, even when all beginnings are equal – some beginnings are more equal than others. The following selection of so-called “alternative rock” songs share the common feature that the magic of their beginnings is especially pronounced. With these songs, you do not have to read 4,195 pages of Harry Potter in order to find out that “All was well” – instead the music each time is love at first sight – within the first few seconds of listening, you immediately know that “All is well”.

The best example for a breathtakingly beautiful beginning is the 14-second intro to the song “Peaches” by “The Presidents of the United States of America”:

The moment the electric guitar unfolds the serene melody atop of the subtle non-moving melodic carpet laid out by the accompanying guitar(s), you just have to hold your breath, because it sounds so beautiful. Of course the song after the intro ain't bad either, when the singer takes up the said melody. Yet, the idyllic, peaceful beggining is never re-captured again throughout the remaining piece, not even during the lenghty outro, which is slightly calmer than the middle part, but still more agitated than the beginning.

The lyrics of the song inspired some of the first ever websites on how the song promotes communism – The fact that “peaches come from a can/they were put there by a man/in a factory downtown” purportedly demonstrates the alienation of workers from nature and from the product of their own work in communism. The denouement of the song, with the repeated outcall: “Millions of Peaches – Peaches for Free” supposeodly portrays the moment when the lead singer has already “moved to the country” in order to “eat a lot of peaches”, and it is in this rural setting, where communist ideals of free sharing of resources finally can be put into practice – which was not possible in the capitalistic environment of the city. As a matter of fact, the beginnings of this very site Eric's Weekly Nonsense can be traced back to a fascination with these early websites written about the communism contained in the song Peaches.

A further pastorally pretty prequel to a song is the 9-second intro to the song “I think I'm Paranoid” by “Garbage”:

The pretty synthesizer-intro repeats and blends into the verses of the song, and variations of the melody are basis of the bridges – with the chorus and all of very many interludes drawing upon a very different set of instrumentations and sounds, usually much more energetic and coarse in nature than the smoothness of the beginning. The intro also recurs in the voice-accompanied outro of the piece.

Finally, a delightfully delicate dawn of a song is the 17-second intro to “Don't Look Back into the Sun” by the “Libertines”, one of the projects of Amy Winehouse's Pete Doherty:

The cautious volume of the non-drum-instruments at the beginning evokes the notion of distance (perhaps in reference to the great distance between the singer and the sun featured in the lyrics), as well as some sort of careful trying out. While the distance never will be regained throughout the song, an air of playfulness is retained until the rather unstructured dissolution of the piece.

All three pieces have in common that their beautiful, calm, melodic beginnings rather swiftly are replaced by loud, noisy guitar riffs as the songs develop over time. For the magic of every beginning is limited – every beginning also carries its own, irrevocable end in itself. Romeo and Juliet's love is so perfect, precisely because the duration of their relationship is restricted to the beginning – they never have to fight about who is in charge of changing diapers.

However, even though the unique beauty of each of the beginnings only lasts shortly – the promises made to the listener in the beginning are nevertheless kept – all songs are great to listen to throughout their entire durations, and all build upon their strong start-offs. By the end of each song, nothing is as it was in the beginning – neither the music, nor the listener. And perhaps in reality the beginning is perceived as being especially pretty only in retrospect, simply because everything that followed was so exciting – just like in real life.

Thus, no matter how many endings of beginnings you have to endure in your life, don't forget Casablanca's and Black Cat/White Cat's insights that especially the ends can contain new beginnings. And don't forget the insight of alternative rock music that it is possible to preserve some of the initial magic throughout any development – no matter how noisy or coarse the route may seem.

Have a week filled with the beginnings of many beautiful events,