For the Morning Edition Song Project, we’ve asked musicians to capture life in the era of COVID-19 by writing an original song that describes this turbulent moment. When we contacted Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, he had an idea ready to go. He says “Slint, Spiderland” was something he had been jotting down as a sort of musical journal entry.
“It’s one of those songs I don’t think I ever really intended for public consumption,” Colin Meloy says. “Sometimes you kind of scratch these things down to capture a moment, or some sort or observation of a moment.”
Meloy wrote “Slint, Spiderland” in April at the start of the pandemic, just after Oregon issued its stay-at-home order, when “we were still up against this really unknowable thing that was happening just outside the walls of our homes.”
While on breaks from from the book he’s currently writing, Meloy killed time by watching Breadcrumb Trail, a documentary about the making of the band Slint’s 1991 album Spiderland, and thought about the weirdness of it all.
“I don’t know that it particularly spoke to the current moment in any way other than it felt completely disconnected from it,” the artist says. “Thing is about the lockdown and the quarantine, once we got past the initial [concerns] — like, how to get food, how to teach our kids and do our jobs at the same time — once that pattern had emerged, our lives as a stay-at-home writer and a stay-at-home illustrator were sort of bizarrely normal. … And so I think that was the moment: ‘Here I am getting lost in watching this documentary. Meanwhile, this thing is happening outside.'”
NPR’s David Greene spoke to Colin Meloy about the lyrics to “Slint, Spiderland,” setting a routine for his autistic teenager during the pandemic and navigating the fine line between performative activism and true allyship. Hear the full interview in the audio player.