“tell me about a moment, a song
and what it meant to you”
Context: I was late in picking up the Black Angels’ latest album Passover, even though they are local and I try to hear any new local production as soon as possible. I listened through most of it in the car on my way home from the record store, and left it in the cd player for a few days to give it a closer inspection as time allowed.
Result: Around the same time I received the horrible news that a close friend had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was another casualty of the war that had already taken the life of thousands of American soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens. I was angry. I wanted this war to be over, right that second. The Black Angels disc was still in the cd player, but it had gone silent. Not long after I realized this, a hidden track at the end of the album called “The Iraq War” started playing, and it summed up my thoughts on the war right then and there. The words “Somebody please stop that war” are as heavy today as they were over 12 months ago. Is anyone listening?
Context: It was a cold winter, I cried and cried, because I was in a very hard situation where I made a terrible mistake and there’s no going back, then this was the song that got my attention during a heavy experimental playlist. The song was crying like me, it was like a brainstorm to fuck all the difficulties in this life.
Result: I used to walk with music in my ears, but I can’t stand to with a random music mix. There is nothing better than a well adjusted emotional playlist. And music, it really is my best friend. The other day I was feeling good because of this song and its old memory. The Invisible Worm sounds like a great and terrible beauty, and makes you know that you are not the only one!
Context: After listening to this song hundreds of times before, I finally truly heard it for the first time.
Result: Not a condemnation as much as a sigh of relief for further tragedies avoided… I came to terms and no longer lamented the love that fell apart, but genuinely believed it was better to have loved and lost, and even more so to have learned from the experience and do some long hard thinking about what I want out of future relationships.
Context: A crowded loft, all kinds of mayhem up front, the singer with a bandanna pulled over his face, jeans hanging low, skateboard rattling on top of the speakers, the familiar swinging of guitars like those metallic oil mines you see when driving through Texas, water pouring out of his face, and off of everyone around me adding only to the humid decrepitude that was Baltimore in the one nine eighters. The 1-hit wonder song everyone on the East coast knew first from that soundtrack, I guess I sure did, turned the already maddened crowd into a full out combat zone, clodhoppers flying, dust singing along with the refrain “I’m not crazy / your driving me crazy“, arms swinging like helicopters, sweat rising like bullets into the shadows of the ceiling, pushing, yelling and screaming. The band, only a few months from being outed and condemned by the faithless faithful (metal sellouts, what else?), seeing the sheer power that just one song can have, played it cool like bands did, pushing stage divers off the stage with their boots, guitars and elbows. That night, we were prostrate in front of the band – who cares if we were calling them metal sellouts the next year and boycotting their shows.
Result: Did it make me feel, you ask? No, it did the exact opposite. I felt even more out of it than before, not-feel was the feeling, my own-ly friends, that crowd of people I’ll never see again but okdokie with the timespacefeel of the song. That song despised now as being too OBVIOUS as a representative song of the era but even now remains as the little tiny LARGE raging encapsulation of what I and everyone in that room felt in that night long ago. We pushed out from there, we went on and made money, committed suicides, got into our own bands, lived, married, had kids, murdered, joked, grew fat, and discovered great art in my own little misfit cusp-borne retread punk idiot generation.
artwork by robert carter