4. Meansingless titles
‘The Artemis Ward‘ by Endless Boogie is a wonderful atmospheric monologue about a mad signal man and a train suicide. It has an excellent beat, and it has throwaway lines like a reference to George Templeton Strong. The name is just dropped into the track without explanation. It refers to a mid 19th Century US essayist (the American Pepys) but nothing in the song relates to him. I only found this out by googling the name!
The point of this post is that nothing in the song explains the reason for the title as ‘the Artemis ward’. Artemis Ward was the name of a famous Revoutionary War hero in USA: late 18th Century. It was also the nom de plume of an American humorist of the mid 19th Century. That explains nothing about the song, which is based on a railway accident due to a guard having gone off his head: at least that may be the plot of the song. Its quite hard to work out.
But I dont think the lack of a rational plot for the title of the song is any problem: its a nice phrase and the song’s story is quite strong enough without further explanation. It adds a portentous air of mystery to the whole song.
I cant find a good video of the Endless Boogie ‘Artemis Ward’: maybe there isnt one. But here they are howling away very cheerfully:
A variation on that theme is songs with foreign titles I dont understand. Tim Maia’s brazilian title ‘no cominho do Bem’ means nothing to me but the track is a wonderful dreamy groove. No real need for a title! I find that to be true especially of Brazilian songs, since they have lovely rhythms and occasional words that might mean something. Very charming to listen to.