New York Series: Bayside ‘Montauk’

Then meet me in Montauk where we'll write out in the sand, "Here lies the destiny of two hurt souls afraid to be cured again."

The air gets warmer, the sun sets later, and lines begin to form around the blocks of the Italian Ice shops that were boarded up all winter: summer is around the corner. There is something special about the transition from spring to summer that seems to put a smile everyone’s face and gives people hope for what is to come. While there is always reason to be optimistic about the summer fun you’ll have and the love you might find along the way, it is also important to avoid blindly believing everything is going to turn out the way you planned it in your head. Bayside’s “Montauk” provides a cautionary look at the darker side to the end of a summer fling, and proclaims a warning to what might happen if you get too involved with someone who you know you may never see again.

The punk band Bayside has deep roots in New York (they are named after the Queens neighborhood where they formed), so it is not out of place that they wrote a song dedicated to one of the state’s most famous vacation getaways. When most people think of Montauk they often have wonderful memories of their time on the beach, eating lobster with their families, or visiting the Montauk lighthouse. However, when Bayside wrote “Montauk,” they made a conscious decision to avoid all of the pleasant memories they might have had and took a more negative, yet humbling, approach to writing about the seaside town. They wanted to remind people that unfortunate circumstances can occur in amazing places, and sometimes saying goodbye is the hardest part of life.

“Montauk” tells the story of losing a love at summer’s end. The narrator had to say goodbye to a lover he ended up caring about more than he originally intended. Even though he knew the fling would end once the leaves began to change, he didn’t think it would hurt so much when the relationship actually ended. He knew the consequences to falling in love with someone in such a short amount of time together but he took the risk anyway. The narrator is filled with angst, misery and fear that he will never love again, and an even worse fear that he will regret losing his lover for the rest of his life. While anyone who has had their heart broken knows that in time it is possible to love again, the song provides a rational warning not to get too involved with someone you realistically may never see again after such a short period of time.

Although it has never been confirmed, many fans believe “Montauk” was inspired by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet) in which a painful breakup leads to a young couple undergoing a controversial medical procedure to have their memories wiped to forget it all. The movie takes place, in part, on Long Island and Montauk is where the two lovers always plan to meet, much like the lovers in Bayside’s “Montauk.”

While “Montauk” may provide a cautionary measure about what could happen at the end of a summer fling, it is just that: cautionary. Sometimes it’s worth it to take the risk with someone, even if you don’t think you’ll ever see them again. If you find someone who made you happy, even if they left your life forever after a couple of months, it is important to learn from the past and remember how hard it was to end things; but it’s equally as important to appreciate the joy you once felt.

‘Montauk’ Lyrics: 

It’s getting cold
Thought it was too soon to tell but it was terribly old and as the heartbeat slows to a heartless crawl
The lights went out,
The lights went out and darkness filled the house on tiring night under a Long Island sky
I thought I’d known the consequence,
But sweetness,
Can you believe this?
This mess we’ve made of it
This mess we’ve made of it
In years to come it might make sense,
But sweetness,
Can you believe this?
Just what’s become of it?
What’s become of it?
If you hear this and you think you’re ready,
Then meet me in Montauk where we’ll write out in the sand,
“Here lies the destiny of two hurt souls afraid to be cured again.”
That could be our epitaph
I thought I’d known the consequence,
But sweetness,
Can you believe this?
This mess we’ve made of it
This mess we’ve made of it
In years to come it might make sense,
But sweetness,
Can you believe this?
Just what’s become of it?
What’s become of it?
I thought I’d known the consequence,
But sweetness,
Can you believe this?
This mess we’ve made of it
This mess we’ve made of it
In years to come it might make sense,
But sweetness,
Did you foresee this?
Just what’s become of us?
What’s become of us?

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