As with all Mountain Goats songs, interpretation is left up to the listener. There are many ways to hear songs that are really stories.
This one - one of my three favorite MG songs - always makes me think of life going on while tragedy happens around us, how the mundane and the ordinary intertwine with death, how lights stay on while others go dark.
On the day that Dennis Brown’s habits caught up with him
School children sang in choirs
And out behind the Chinese restaurants
Guys were jumping into dumpsters
Some people die quiet, unassuming deaths. Others don’t. But it’s always there among us, even as we go on with our own lives.