Super Blood Moon: The Story Behind The Song

This essay is the backstory for our song “Super Blood Moon,” which you can listen to below or over here.

Most of what I know about the solar system came from my Grandpa Archie, a sweet and self-educated man who took great joy in explaining world history and earth science to his grandchildren, of which I was the first. He would hold up a few spheres he had on hand — a softball, an orange, a golf ball — and show me how the sun, earth and moon were gravitationally bound to each other, moving around and around and occasionally falling in line, causing an eclipse. He would then recall the time he experienced a total solar eclipse as a young boy; though it was daytime when the moon passed in front of the sun, the yard chickens went to roost, thinking it was night. This story always got him laughing in the slow, raspy chuckle that made me feel calm and grounded, even as my parents’ marriage was losing hold, my mother and father spinning out of orbit and into the unknown.

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I spent two happy afternoons with my mother, stepfather, father and stepmother, all together in reconfigured alignments, and also paid a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Opened this past summer, the museum stands as a serene respite from the garish cult of celebrity and selfies that is Hollywood Boulevard. The building is a spare, high-ceilinged space within a block of the Hollywood Wax Museum and on the same corner as the Walk of Fame star awarded to Charlie Chaplin (who married four times). The logo is a circular path, broken in two places.

Inside, the exhibits consist of more than 100 objects on the walls or in simple display boxes, donated to the museum from people all over the world who had been hanging onto these talismans of failed connection until now. The rotating collection includes an iron used to press a wedding suit, an engraved spoon, a jar of pickles, a set of silicon implants suggested by a boyfriend and removed after his departure, and a small pile of dried contact lenses collected from a bedside table — clear, hemispheric symbols of how differently an ex saw the world.

Small typed cards relate the anonymous stories behind the objects, how the relationship began (whether childhood friends or star-crossed lovers) and how it fell out of synchronous rotation. The tales range from heartbreaking to funny to infuriating, but share that familiar moment of realization that things aren’t going to turn out like you always thought. The earth isn’t flat. Ptolemy was wrong. While it’s perhaps not a romantic museum (Daniel and I went together but found ourselves taking separate routes around the exhibits), it’s not depressing. En masse, the objects and personal stories evoke a feeling of human connectedness — not unlike the sense you get when, on a starry night, you realize your own smallness in the face of constellations and comets, meteor showers and moon shadows.

Last year, when I learned there was going to be a rare type of total lunar eclipse, I thought about how excited Grandpa Archie would’ve been to see it. It was guaranteed to be a marvel — happening during a supermoon, when the moon is closest to the earth in its ellipse, and fully visible to our part of the globe. The last time this convergence happened was in 1982, but I had no idea then, ensconced as I was in a whole new universe: navigating the friendships and romances of high school.

The night of the lunar eclipse, the skies in Seattle were clear. Daniel and I walked down to Madrona Beach on Lake Washington, where we discovered that scores of people had set up lawn chairs as if at an outdoor movie. Nothing seemed to happen for a long time. And then the moon started to turn orange-red. It seemed huge and close in those moments, and tangible as a golf ball. An object you could pluck from the sky and keep in a drawer for years.

The song “Super Blood Moon” was born that chilly night by the lake, as I imagined the moon’s take on the evening, given her longstanding entanglement with the earth. Was she happy? Resigned to the arrangement? I looked around at the strangers gathered on the shore, humans engaged in various states of relationships, all staring out over the water and upward. It seemed like we were searching the skies for a sign — a shooting star, maybe, or a discreet placard explaining how we’d arrived here.

— Brangien

Song 6 of 11

i have never felt this close to you
i have never seen that shade of blue
but i’m waxing full of doubt
i’m just trying to figure out
why everything revolves around you 
only you
super blood moon lunar eclipse
astronomical apocalypse
super blood moon lunar eclipse
of the heart
overshadowed
you’re the one 
in front of the sun
super blood moon lunar eclipse
astronomical apocalypse
i have never felt so far from you
i was blushing, but now you’ve got me feeling blue
super blood moon lunar eclipse
caught up in your celestial grip
I can’t seem to pull away
so I’ll circle for another day
and when the tide has turned
is when you’ll see
you need me

The Argument is Brangien Davis and Daniel Spils. Learn more about the band here: How The Argument Started and 1 of My 43 Things.

The Argument is releasing 11 songs in 11 weeks on Medium. Sign up for new song updates.

Thank you for listening.