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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Great Expectations/The Gaslight Anthem

Great Expectations, from The Gaslight Anthem's 2008 album The '59 Sound, takes its title from Charles Dickens' 1861 novel Great Expectations, and makes a specific reference to it in the lyrics: I sat by my bedside/With papers and poetry about Estella/With Great Expectations/We had the greatest expectations. The hero of the novel, Pip, frequently visits the home of Miss Havisham, an embittered spinster who was jilted on her wedding day and now haunts her rundown house wearing a faded wedding gown. There Pip meets Estella, Miss Havisham's beautiful adopted daughter, and falls in love with her. But Estella has been raised to be cold and heartless, to inspire love in men that will never be returned, so that Miss Havisham can have her vicarious revenge. Judging from the women in the singer's life (Licking young boys' blood from her claws/And I learned about the blues from this kitten that I knew/Her hair was raven and her heart was like a tomb), the reference seems entirely appropriate.

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