Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Sad Bastard jams of the Winter times
December 12, 2011 " Escape the trappings of your epic narcissism and
come with me into the great white unknown"
In the summertime, the songs we gravitate towards are the ones dealing
with getting wasted and non-stop totally tubuloso parties, dancing til
dawn, getting wasted AND dancing til dawn, or some kind of generic
ballad/club cut in the style of "summer lovin," that takes place after
we've gotten wasted and danced until dawn. We can stay out all night
and soak up summer's warm embrace because it's one million degrees and
we're sweating all over each other, so why not right? Summer is for
making plans and taking road trips and getting into buckets of
hilarious fun with everyone because we're all, like, totally best
friends for ever right? Right.
I love the summer, but summer's fleeting love can never hold me like
the sharp darkness of winter. Everyone pretends they hate winter,
because they feel like they have to. Cold equals discomfort which is supposed to
equal bad, but I love it. I love it because it reminds me of when I
moved here. It reminds me of standing on the train platform waiting
forever in the snow for the damn red line. It reminds me of sitting
in my apartment downtown smoking cloves and listening to Jimmy Eat
World. It reminds me of walking to the Fireside drinking Old Style
out of a coffee mug. It reminds me of running through the streets on
New Years yelling at every cab to please take me home. Mostly, it
reminds me of being in Michigan, and of driving around town late at
night, thinking about my future, pining for a closeness with some
person I would never be close with, longing for a hopeless romance
with someone who will most likely never speak to me again, desperately
clinging to a romantic loneliness that only being 20 years old can
Happy jams are not for the winter. These are my "sad bastard jams."
Oh yes. Tears in your beers, sad Keanu eating a sangwich on a park
bench sad. I love these jams, not because I am sad and they speak to
my lonliness, although, at times that has been true. I love these
jams because they feel as cold as i feel when i walk outside and
around my parent's house. They remove me to a place built in my
imagination, and with each song, a new memory appears, gently clasps
my frostbitten hands, and transports me to a deep emotional place
where, I just want to be alone man.
In honor of my favorite season of movie montage worthy lonliness, here
are my go-to jams for when you just need a minute.
Bon Iver- " Blood Bank"
Born in the frozen tundra that is the entire state of wisconsin, this
man speaks to me because he is in pain. At least he was. At least it
seems like he was. When you're alone, driving around Escanaba at
midnight, this song understands your problems and your trepidation
about your life. It holds you and warms you with what you can only
recognize as desperation due to isolation.
Sufjan Stevens- "To Be Alone With You."
If I could be alone with Sufjan for one hour, we would be instantly in
love and live out the rest of our days in a cabin on the shores of
Lake Superior, where we would play music and sing with each other
until the day we died in each other's arms as the sun filtered through
the Autumn foliage. The. End.
All-Time Quarterback- "Rules Broken"
Ben Gibbard made some recordings between work with Death cab using
broken and out of tune instruments. The result is something that will
haunt you all the way to your feelings zone. This album throws me
into a time machine and hurls me back to being 21. It reminds me of
college and of being with a million people all of the time, but
feeling like no-one knew me at all. The best and worst of times
Jimmy Eat World- Really, any song from Clarity, but I guess I need to
pick, so I pick "Goodbye Sky Harbor"
Can you still feel the butterflies? Oh I can. The other day, I was
dusting all my tchotchkes on my vanity (I am Miss Havisham in
training), and I listened to this entire album. I still knew all of
the words, I still remembered writing for hours and hours in my
journal about one particular person, and playing out scenes in my mind
where I would get exactly what I wanted from him, and my life, at that
moment, would play out exactly like any song from Clarity. I used to
get drunk, and put this album on in the bathroom so I could pass out
on the cold floor listening to it, which, makes absolutely no sense,
but I was 22, and I romanticized being a hot mess every single day of
Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides Now"
Joni Mitchell was something like 23 or younger when she wrote this
song. I could listen to this sad masterpiece for the rest of my life,
through every up and down, back and forth, right and definitely wrong,
and it would fit. It is immaculate. Her voice is immaculate. She is
one of those most incredible musicians I wish I could say I knew, and
her ferocity and simultaneous vulnerability will forever be the truth
Jenny Lewis- "Acid Tongue"
The harmonies in the song are tight, the changes are simple, the
lyrics cut deep into my psyche, and I appreciate that more than I can
really express. "To be lonely is a habit, like smoking, or taking
drugs, and I've quit them both, but man was it rough." That's enough
Sunny Day Real Estate- "Phuerton Skuerton"
This song is a mystery. I like to pretend that I am well versed in
Sunny Day Real Estate, and their, "We fuckin' invented the phrase,
'SAD BASTARD!" demeanor, but really, this is the only song I know
well, and I think I tripped over it by accident a decade ago, when I
was looking for something else on Napster. It is so obscure and
beautiful, and I kind of love that it is the only song of theirs I
know because that way, I won't have to worry about being disappointed
because the rest of their songs sound totally different.
Sigur Ros- "Saeglopur"
Layer up piano, vocal distortions, tiny keyboards, chimes, and the
rolling consonants skipping through the Icelandic language, add
driving by yourself on a dark and winding Upper Michigan back road,
and you will feel as if you've finished wondering. A clearing appears
ahead and a white light splits the sky apart. You're done here. Time
to sail away to the Grey Havens.
Elliot Smith- I can't pick one song, so I pick the entire album XO.
Every song kills me, and makes me think of walking around London when
I was 19. The first time I heard this album, I felt like I had just
been born. I didn't understand his voice, and he seemed like the
grand master of this poetic sadness that I felt like I related to even
though I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time. I
wanted to be a part of those emotions, but the closest I can get is
being able to sing the same words.
Death Cab for Cutie- "405"
I could pick every song, but I pick this one because the lyrics are so
perfect. Basically, I took up with this person who was everything,
that turned out to be a superbly wrong turn, I drank my way through
it, until I could finally find the exit. This has been a reality for
all of us, and when you're driving on the 405, it all makes sense.
Southern Califonia's freeway system is fucking confusing!
"Company Calls Epilogue" is a very immediate second. This is what I
live and die for. Some person who was so crazy craze for me, that
they show up at my wedding fucking tanked out of their skull, all
slurring their words, and accidentally pouring champagne on all the
kids faces, but never confessing to me that is should have been them.
We may both know the fucked up truth, but we just leave it as, "the
white routine, to be ingested inaccurately."
It is 100% ok to take a three or so minutes to be sad about things.
The world is a mostly beautiful place, filled with mostly beautiful
and interesting people. However, there are equally as many monsters
and nightmares. Nothing in this life will ever be as perfect as you
are led to think it will, so you should hug your feelings as they
shift and change because it will make you less of a robot. We process
being alone as something that shouldn't be desired, and that being
alone makes you an anti-social weirdo. Nothing is more weird than
trying to deny your tendencies to feel something other than happiness
all of the time. You are so much more to me than some cold, robotic
being a la Siri. Feel it all, or you've squandered this existence,
and don't deserve another chance.