100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #85: “Cleopatra” by The Lumineers

The song at #85 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the beautiful “Cleopatra” by American folk rock band The Lumineers. The Denver, Colorado based trio, consisting of Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek, first made a splash in 2012 with their massive breakthrough single “Ho Hey”. (Pekarek has since left the band in 2018, so The Lumineers are currently a duo).

“Cleopatra” is the title track and second single from their sophomore album Cleopatra, and my personal favorite of all their songs. I love songs that tell a compelling story, and “Cleopatra” certainly fills the bill. Schultz explained his inspiration for the song in a 2017 Facebook post: “It’s inspired by a true story about a female taxi driver who, when she was younger, was proposed to. But her father had just passed away, so she didn’t give her boyfriend an answer. So he left the village broken-hearted and rejected and never returned again. He was her great love and she wouldn’t wash the footprints off the floor after he had left.

The toe-tapping rhythms, jangly strummed guitars and rousing piano are really wonderful and upbeat, providing a contrast to the rather bittersweet lyrics:

I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress
When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand
But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress
With my father in a casket, I had no plans, yeah

And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet
And it hardened like my heart did when you left town
But I must admit it, that I would marry you in an instant
Damn your wife, I’d be your mistress just to have you around

But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time

While the church discouraged, any lust that burned within me
Yes my flesh, it was my currency, but I held true
So I drive a taxi, and the traffic distracts me
From the strangers in my backseat, they remind me of you

But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time

And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce
But I’ve read this script and the costume fits, so I’ll play my part

I was Cleopatra, I was taller than the rafters
But that’s all in the past love, gone with the wind
Now a nurse in white shoes leads me back to my guestroom
It’s a bed and a bathroom
And a place for the end

I won’t be late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time

Top 30 Songs for April 12-18, 2020

1. BLINDING LIGHTS – The Weeknd (1)
2. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (2)
3. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (3)
4. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (4)
5. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (6)
6. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (7)
7. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (5)
8. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (9)
9. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (11)
10. CAUTION – The Killers (22)
11. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (8)
12. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (15)
13. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (16)
14. OH YEAH! – Green Day (17)
15. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (10)
16. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (18)
17. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes (19)
18. YOUR LOVE (DÉJÀ VU) – Glass Animals (21)
19. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (14)
20. DELETER – Grouplove (24)
21. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (12) 20th week on list
22. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975 (23)
23. COLORS – Black Pumas (13)
24. LET’S FALL IN LOVE FOR THE NIGHT – FINNEAS (26)
25. MARIA – Two Feet (27)
26. BEAUTIFUL FACES – Declan McKenna (28)
27. LEMON DROP – Absofacto (29)
28. IF NOT FOR THE FIRE – The Million Reasons (30)
29. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (20)
30. HELL N BACK – Bakar (N)

Top 30 Songs for April 5-11, 2020

1. BLINDING LIGHTS – The Weekend (3)
2. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (1)
3. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (2)
4. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (4)
5. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (5)
6. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (9)
7. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (11)
8. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (7)
9. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (8)
10. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (10)
11. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (12)
12. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (6)
13. COLORS – Black Pumas (15)
14. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (16)
15. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (17)
16. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (19)
17. OH YEAH! – Green Day (20)
18. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (21)
19. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes (22)
20. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (13)
21. YOUR LOVE (DÉJÀ VU) – Glass Animals (25)
22. CAUTION – The Killers (30)
23. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975 (24)
24. DELETER – Grouplove (N)
25. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (14) 20th week on list
26. LET’S FALL IN LOVE FOR THE NIGHT – FINNEAS (29)
27. MARIA – Two Feet (N)
28. BEAUTIFUL FACES – Declan McKenna (N)
29. LEMON DROP – Absofacto (N)
30. IF NOT FOR THE FIRE – The Million Reasons (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 29-April 4, 2020

1. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (1)
2. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (2)
3. BLINDING LIGHTS – The Weeknd (27)
4. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (5)
5. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (6)
6. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (3)
7. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (9)
8. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (10)
9. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (11)
10. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (12)
11. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (13)
12. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (14)
13. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (8)
14. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (4)
15. COLORS – Black Pumas (16)
16. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (17)
17. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (18)
18. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (7) 23rd week on list
19. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (22)
20. OH YEAH! – Green Day (23)
21. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (25)
22. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes (26)
23. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (15)
24. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975 (28)
25. YOUR LOVE (DÉJÀ VU) – Glass Animals (30)
26. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (19)
27. GO EASY – Matt Maeson (29)
28. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (20)
29. LET’S FALL IN LOVE FOR THE NIGHT – FINNEAS (N)
30. CAUTION – The Killers (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 22-28, 2020

We need some fun and exciting music to help rescue us from these rather depressing times, and Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” is the perfect song to do it! It leaps five notches to #1 this week.

1. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (6)
2. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (2)
3. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (3)
4. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (4)
5. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (5)
6. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (7)
7. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (1) 22nd week on list
8. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (8)
9. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (9)
10. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (12)
11. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (13)
12. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (15)
13. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (16)
14. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (17)
15. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (11)
16. COLORS – Black Pumas (19)
17. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (20)
18. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (21)
19. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (14)
20. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (18)
21. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (10) 20th week on list
22. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (24)
23. OH YEAH! – Green Day (25)
24. REASONS I DRINK – Alanis Morissette (23)
25. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (27)
26. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes (28)
27. BLINDING LIGHTS – The Weeknd (N)
28. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975 (29)
29. GO EASY – Matt Maeson (30)
30. YOUR LOVE (DÉJÀ VU) – Glass Animals (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 15-21, 2020

1. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (2) 21st week on list
2. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (1)
3. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (4)
4. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (3)
5. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (6)
6. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (7)
7. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (8)
8. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (9)
9. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (10)
10. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (5)
11. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (11)
12. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (12)
13. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (14)
14. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (13)
15. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (17)
16. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (19)
17. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (20)
18. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (18)
19. COLORS – Black Pumas (21)
20. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (22)
21. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (23)
22. YOU? – Two Feet (15) 22nd week on list
23. REASONS I DRINK – Alanis Morissette (26)
24. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (27)
25. OH YEAH! – Green Day (28)
26. ORPHANS – Coldplay (16)
27. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (30)
28. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes (N)
29. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975 (N)
30. GO EASY – Matt Maeson (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 8-14, 2020

1. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (1)
2. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (3) 20th week on list
3. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (4)
4. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (5)
5. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (2)
6. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (7)
7. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (8)
8. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (9)
9. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (10)
10. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (18)
11. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (14)
12. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (15)
13. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (16)
14. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (17)
15. YOU? – Two Feet (13) 21st week on list
16. ORPHANS – Coldplay (6)
17. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (21)
18. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (20)
19. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (22)
20. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (23)
21. COLORS – Black Pumas (24)
22. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (25)
23. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (26)
24. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (11)
25. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (12)
26. REASONS I DRINK – Alanis Morissette (28)
27. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (29)
28. OH YEAH! – Green Day (30)
29. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (19) 22nd week on list
30. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 1-7, 2020

1. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (2)
2. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (1)
3. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (3)
4. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (5)
5. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (6)
6. ORPHANS – Coldplay (4)
7. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (9)
8. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (12)
9. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (13)
10. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (14)
11. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (8)
12. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (7)
13. YOU? – Two Feet (10) 20th week on list
14. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (15)
15. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (16)
16. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (17)
17. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (19)
18. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (20)
19. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (11) 21st week on list
20. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (21)
21. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (22)
22. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (23)
23. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (26)
24. COLORS – Black Pumas (27)
25. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (28)
26. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (29)
27. THE RUNNER – Foals (18)
28. REASONS I DRINK – Alanis Morissette (N)
29. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – The Black Keys (N)
30. OH YEAH! – Green Day (N)

Top 30 Songs for February 23-29, 2020

1. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (1)
2. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (4)
3. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (3)
4. ORPHANS – Coldplay (2)
5. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (6)
6. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (9)
7. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (8)
8. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (10)
9. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (12)
10. YOU? – Two Feet (7) 19th week on list
11. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (5) 20th week on list
12. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (19)
13. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (20)
14. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (15)
15. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (16)
16. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (17)
17. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (18)
18. THE RUNNER – Foals (11)
19. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (21)
20. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (22)
21. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (24)
22. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (25)
23. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (26)
24. REWARD – Paul Iwan (13)
25. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons (14)
26. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (28)
27. COLORS – Black Pumas (29)
28. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (30)
29. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka (N)
30. NIGHT TIME – Isolda (23)

Top 30 Songs for February 16-22, 2020

1. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (2)
2. ORPHANS – Coldplay (1)
3. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (4)
4. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (14)
5. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (3)
6. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (8)
7. YOU? – Two Feet (5)
8. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (10)
9. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (11)
10. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (12)
11. THE RUNNER – Foals (7)
12. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (13)
13. REWARD – Paul Iwan (6)
14. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons (9)
15. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (16)
16. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (18)
17. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (19)
18. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (20)
19. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (21)
20. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (24)
21. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (22)
22. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (23)
23. NIGHT TIME – Isolda (15)
24. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (25)
25. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (27)
26. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (28)
27. DISSOLVE – Absofacto (17) 25th week on list
28. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala (30)
29. COLORS – Black Pumas (N)
30. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges (N)