The men in these parts feel like they might be dying. They're looking straight ahead and they're not seeing much. They're feeling as if things are coming to a close and they've got to shake things up. It's the mid-life crisis coming earlier than it should be, for these aren't middle-aged men. These are men who have been struggling along now for quite some time and they just feel like they're old. They started having kids when they were kids and they knew damned well at that time that this was all coming at them too soon, too intensely. They caught themselves a good shot of depression before they were even able to spell the word.
They've felt their nervous breakdowns coming. The heart palpitations have been the lullabies that get them to sleep at night, instead of keeping them up, pacing the floors, considering calling a doctor or heading straight to the emergency room. They've felt themselves peering down over the edge of the roof and admiring the view, wondering what the toppling over would actually feel like if they were to slip. Oh, but they'd never do it. It could never get that bad enough. The good days still far outweigh the bad ones, but, really, who couldn't say that? Few people should really, with any sort of convincing authority, count more bad days on their hands than better ones. It's almost mathematically and conscionably impossible to do so.
The kinds of men who exist in these Family History songs are men who are going to be here even after everything else has fallen down around them. They might be key contributors to the disrepair and hence the wreckage, but they'll figure, since they're still there, they might as well lend a hand and pick some of it back up again. They're going to be the stubborn prevailing sorts. They'll point out that the sky is falling, but they'll offer a very good explanation for it and then comment that it's kinda pretty too, isn't it? Pagan sings, "I'll let you know when I'm feelin' fine/I'll call you up when the sun is shinin'/But the sun ain't comin' up for a while," and even with that pessimistic outlook, you never get the sense that the ship is sinking. It's just not going anywhere and sometimes that feels an awful lot like sinking.