I have a recent recording by Canadian singer Elizabeth Shepherd of songs from the mid 20th century.  Including Lonely House by Langston Hughes and Kurt Weill.  I am a longtime fan of Weill.  The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogonny.  Die seben Todsunden.  Gibbering void and all that.

Kurt Weill

The song is not sung from a country road with neighbors far apart.  Rather, from the city.  With all those folks around.  It sings of urban density which seems to beget social distance, but even more so an emotional distance.  The reverse of community.  An unsought hyper individualism.  Not so far removed from the unhealthy individualism of the religion critiqued by Bonhoeffer.

Such lonliness is suffocating.  The song is a cry.  A shriek.

At night when everything is quiet
This old house seems to breathe a sigh
Sometimes I hear a neighbor snoring
Sometimes I can hear a baby cry

Sometimes I can hear a staircase creaking
Sometimes a distant telephone
Oh, and when the night settles down again
This old house and I are all alone

Lonely house, lonely me
Funny with so many neighbors
How lonesome you can be

Lonely town, lonely street
Funny, you can be so lonely
With all these folks around

I guess there must be something
I don’t comprehend
Sparrows have companions
Even stray dogs have a friend

The night for me is not romantic
Unhook the stars and take them down
I’m lonely in this lonely town, in this lonely house

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