The easiest thing to do when your life starts to crumble around you is give up. That’s why when we hear stories of people around the world persevering in the toughest of situations, we tend to instinctively support them and rally behind their cause. This sort of message is pretty universal, and I believe something that most people could benefit by hearing at one time or another in their life. Clearly believing this as well, this is the message which Men I Trust have written into their song, “Lucky Sue.”
Taking no time to enter its groove, the song leads us in with a melody which is being played over an electric piano which is holding down the foundation of the tune. The bass and drums are interlocked so tightly it is impossible to keep your head still. Suddenly, the lead melody quiets down as the groove continues and lead singer Emma Proulx begins to sing in a soft voice, “Had she lost another one / She would’ve end, just like her son.” Seemingly beginning a story in medias res, we learn of a woman (presumably Sue) who hasn’t had the more fortunate of lives. As if going down a list of the woman’s misfortunes, Proulx sings again, “Had she lost another one / She would’ve end, just like her mom.” Only two verses into the song, we have already learned that Sue has lost not only her son, but also her mother. The song then enters a brief chorus where Proulx sings, “By grace, she was spared / A few toes, a few to care.” It would seem that even though Sue is surrounded by bad luck, she has been relatively spared, all things considered.
Entering the next verse, we continue the repetition of the previous verses, while also reaffirming Sue’s misfortune. Proulx sings, “Had she lost another one / Insurance lawyers would have won.” Presumably, this refers to the fact that if Sue had lost someone else, she would crumble as she is already so fragile. The insurance lawyers would’ve won, because they would be the ones making money off of her case. As the song goes, “Settle quick, the course was cheap / Didn’t bother to go deep,” referring to the lawyers complete lack of care for the case. Instead of looking into it, they got it over with as quick as possible to cash in their checks. The song enters a bridge, where Proulx reflects upon Sue’s home life, “I saw the home she’s from / No place for one to hum.” Essentially, her home life was so poor that she couldn’t even find solace there. She continues, “That pride so dear to some / She learned to overcome / Fate unearned.” Despite all of this, she has learned throughout her life to overcome everything bad that has fallen upon her. Her fate may be unearned, but she still takes her life in stride and pushes forward.
The song returns to the chorus, repeating it multiple times as various instruments and harmonies come and go. With every new aspect being introduced into the song, the weight behind the words becomes clearer. As the lyrics go, “By grace, she was spared,” and that seems to be the general message of the song. No matter what happens to you in life, you’re still here to experience it, and that is what really matters. The song then allows the instruments to take over until everything fades out and it is over. While deceivingly simple, this song actually uses subtlety very well. While the groove of the instruments keeps the listener pushing forward, the lyrics keeps them invested. If there was ever a message needed today, it is within this song.