What do we notice when we listen to this song?
Firstly there is the use of repetition to tell a story.
The composer uses artistic licence with the use of the word 'hanging'.
The video suggests that the bottles have actually been placed on a couple of ledges.
While the word 'hanging' initially seems like a mistake, it is used here to catch our interest in the lyrics, which are an important part of any song.
Basically the theme is one of 'what if?'
If no bottles fell, there would not be an event.
So the bottles fall (accidently), one by one.
We start guessing the outcome - no bottles left.
Are these wine bottles?
Are they full bottles?
Cleanskin or that fancy stuff The Curmudgeon drinks?
The quality of the wine will make a difference to how one interprets the story.
The Curmudgeon, for instance, will be deeply moved if this is expensive plonk with a peach after taste.
A Cleanskin drinker might take it more in his stride.
Some people will see these as beer bottles.
Cold beer on a hot day going to waste.
The word 'accidently' is really there to tease us.
Is someone breaking these bottles on purpose?
This is a song about vandalism.
Remember the East Germanic tribe, or group of tribes, who first appeared in history as inhabiting present-day southern Poland hundreds of years ago?
|Vandalic goldfoil jewellery from the 3rd or 4th century.|
The lyrics take us through the history of vandalism as a subtle theme that sits just below the surface of what seems like a simple concept of bottles falling more by chance than by anything else.
The song is in 2/2 time, with a 4 bar riff between each verse played by an accordion.
Each verse is 16 bars long. The accompaniament is homophonic and it is interesting to note the melodic contribution of the accordion that underlies the significance of the lyric.
This particular recording of the song has a Da capo at the end of the breaking bottle cycle. The cycle of breaking starts again but is faded out.
There are no fancy musical devices used in this song. No modulation, no time changes, no bridge, no second subject. Just a repetitive four bar instrumental intermission between verses that works to give us time to digest the message this song was created to share with us - albeit at a few different levels of intensity. This song goes for honesty - the message is never allowed to be clouded. This is what makes it a subtle work of genius.
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall. Like the challenges that life throws at us, don't expect things to stay the same, for nothing in life is static. Expect a bottle to fall!