I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life
It’s a bit strange to realize how easy I am moved by certain songs, nowadays. Especially “All My Friends” and “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.” (The latter of which I’m not quite ready to write about, although I think about it, and think about how I’d write about it, and all that it means to me fairly often..)
Once upon a time, certain songs had certain effects, but usually only when I was already in an altered, hypersensitive emotional state. Songs from Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity always had that effect, and I enjoyed letting out angst in the form of screaming along to the climactic countdown in the Violent Femmes’s “Kiss Off.” (Interestingly enough, seeing that song live still brings back intense energy and seemingly repressed anger and angst.) Sometimes they turned into righteous, enraged conviction. Sometimes they made the tears fall faster and dry sooner. Sometimes they merely made me want to do everything my parents wanted me not to do.
I still listen to those songs, in anger, in hopelessness. But it seems less satisfying, then, say, belting out the words to the Used and “All That I’ve Got” or My Chemical Romance’s reassurance that “I”m not o-fucking-kay!” But those are temporary outlets, like punching a pillow to its demise or clutching fists that strain and pain. The songs that brings out something else, something that hits a note deep inside, seem strange choices. Not at all meant to be overly emotional or empowering. Songs like the electroindie of “Just Impolite” by Plushgun or “Myriad Harbour” from the New Pornographers. Illogical choices.
“Just Impolite,” after all, is a catchy, catchy electropop song I loved singing and dancing to with friends. “Myriad Harbour” characterized a sort of grand indie rock, with majesty instruments and a storyline. But it is perhaps not the sound of the songs itself, but a certain line, a certain sentiment in the lyrics.
In “Just Impolite,” it isn’t the sparkling synths or pulsing beats, not even the stuck-in-your-head chorus. Not a bridge nor a particularly grand finale. One little line, one minute thirty in, “but it seems we can’t believe that we’re two peas and this pod we call New York is so lonesome…” That, with this melody twinkling in and out. It calls to mind New York City at dark, the city lights spread like stars blinking on and off. It calls to mind a melodrama romance, up and down the streets of Manhattan, a romance that plays out on rooftops and hidden bars, with glamorous stars who are glamorous not like famous actors, but glamorous in their possession of the city, the streets, life itself.
In a way, “Myriad Harbour” does the same thing. Who cares, you always end up in the city. The gasps and sharp turns in the song, the full and adventurous instruments rushing to prop a stranger in a city. A city open with a hundred possibilities. The hipsters, the sceneries. It brings to life a fantasy, another world.
It’s escape, I realized, that enchants me like no other. Escape from here, to this other world. To a future flashing to life every night. An idea, an image, that lingers.
And “All My Friends?” What of that?
Too many (better) essays and thoughts have been written of that song. Too many things that sounded so true, yet so far from why my friends and I all adore that song. After all, I am far from a middle aged, nostalgic professional longing for the staying up late of youth, and friends I no longer have. I am living the past that I should be longing for.
But maybe it is the now that we all long for. Not the now of this second, this minute. The now of new year’s eve, of staying up late, with all your friends. The now of a few years later, when we know, we will be feeling this. We will be wishing for our friends, and where are our friends tonight?
Scattered across America. At colleges, at jobs. Would we still be friends? Would we remember?
Dancing to “All My Friends,” singing along with the conviction of something else. Relating to all the ups and downs in the song without really knowing what it’s about. Knowing what its about on a measure of days, night. Not months and years.
If I could see all my friends tonight…
And so, that prayer is delivered. Each line, after another. That’s probably why I can hear this song over and over again, and never feel tired. That’s probably why I can sing it each time, not just because it has become automatic, but sing with emotion, with conviction.
Conviction of a future waiting to happen.