There are lines in songs that stay with you forever. They strike a chord for whatever reason when you hear them – so much so that you may forget the name of the song, the artist, the other words, and even the tune, but that one amazing line is always there.
For me, one of these lines came from “Rocky Mountain Music” by Eddie Rabbitt.
Great songs can be far deeper than their 3-minute play time should ever allow, and “Rocky Mountain Music” is definitely one of those. It tells such a big story in just a few verses thanks to really wonderful writing that gives you just enough explicit detail, while guiding your imagination to write the unwritten and expand the snapshots it provides into a fully fleshed-out narrative.
But the line that jumped out to me, even as a young boy hearing the song, and that has stuck with me ever since was:
Little brother was never quite right. He used to sit on the floor in the sunlight and play with the dust that danced on the beams in the window.
What a picture that paints. It stands alone as a story unto itself, but means so much more in the context of the song itself.
I remember thinking as a child that I knew what the “dust that danced on the beams in the window” was. I’d seen it and marveled at it myself. And even then it struck me as extraordinary that such a small thing, such a tiny detail of plain life, could be worthy of immortalizing in a big-time hit song on the radio.
And to this day, that line will come to me out of nowhere, deep and haunting as it ever was – an indelible relic of a song that holds up in its lyricism, melancholy tone, and masterful writing just as well now as it did when I first heard it some 40 years ago.