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Done Gone Haunted Myself

It has been a long time since last post and with good reason; it's also with good reason that a new post finally comes today. My write brain has been moving away from music lately, partially because of music overload compounded by a fact that I don't often talk about, i.e. that my day job involves listening to so much music that I feel entitled to a little burnout here and there. Still, I'm not falling away into other interests, just feeling like I was getting too involved in non-life living, like my obsessions have given way to existential diminishing marginal returns.

Why do I post now? As life so often has it, two reasons converged. Last night I skipped regular Halloween festivities to see the ever-wondrous Mountain Goats at the Knitting Factory with an old friend. Having seen him/them several times now, the bar is always high, but I can confidently say that it was the best show I had seen by him yet. What really got me— me sitting all up in that chair, unshaven, tired, and uncertain— was the amount of "real" "experience" John Darnielle seems to have had in a life. For a while I thought of him as a vampire of humanity's most destructive, fragile impulses, uncannily attuned to the tiniest, most heart-withering tragedies. The Sunset Tree, with the whole "autobiography" tack, really shook that feeling up, that deep seated impression of Darnielle as a guy who used to write songs after simply pulling out a map and staring at the names of countries and towns (I read this somewhere, forgive me for forgetting where). No, last night he donned a priest's robe; "Dance Music" was prefaced with the words "this is a song about God's plan for all of us," to which the crowd laughed and Darnielle in turned silenced by saying "no, really." He talked about being locked in a room for an entire summer listening to the Birthday Party. At one point he said "This song is about all of my friends in Portland, most of who are probably dead." He paused. "They liked speed a lot. You say 'Tina, your teeth don't look so good and you look too thin.' And Tina says 'I'm fine, don't worry.' And you say 'Tina, you are not fine.'"

Now, I won't do any soulseeking, but I will say that I cry at every Mountain Goats show I've ever been to; I could have just come from eating a plate of veal, bench-pressing, and snorting a small mound of cocaine, and I'd still cry, he just wrecks me like that. This was the moment that I said "Yes, fuck yes, I don't want to spend time on the sidelines; I want to be a wallflower but I want the walls smeared with blood and the room filled with spirits. Relishing in my already hermetic tendencies is killing my youth." So it was a silly moment, of course, but it stuck.

Today, the ever-inspiring Justin Cober-Lake had a really compelling article up at Stylus. Go there now and read it. Really. It fucked me up a little, which is a testament to its quality and depth of thought and not an expression of fear or confusion.

I should say that I loved this piece; I loved it because I disagreed. Sure, I was reminded of this time that I had a breakdown in a large rare bookstore and ran out, completely shaken to the core. I told a friend that "there are just too many books; what is the world going to do with so many books?" to which he comfortingly said "you just find your corner and you paint it." Or something to that effect. Justin says you have to hang on to something, to do something. He's absolutely right, but I think I preemptively felt like I knew what that thing was. Furthermore, while I think there's a certain sense that one should embrace what they naturally gravitate towards, there is such a thing as not living up to one's potential. Not that this is what Justin is doing. Hear me clearly: I'm constantly amazed by his work ethic; he writes more than I do and in more places, and I didn't just become a father. I'm also not saying "yeah music is dumb I'm off to save the world." I am saying that I'm fed up with the nasty side of all this, the side that makes me unwittingly/willingly well-versed in things I don't care about, forsaking time I could spend on things I really am interested in. Part of it is my feeling about being comprehensive, i.e. it's my tendency, thorough = good. Still, I've come to some juncture where I feel like I know more about contemporary southern hip-hop than contemporary Japanese dance, and not for lack of interest in the latter, but because of a categorically overwhelming interest in music in general.

Part of the reason I've been absent from this blog was as a result of all this stuff: making little shifts in life, how I spend my time, how I hone my energies. Try to read the paper, try to be good about listening to the BBC World Service, because I figure out a shitload more about myself listening to that than the new Dominik Eulberg mix, no matter how good some of it is. Had to get out and get to Long Island and feel the cold of a ghost. Had to crane to hear "The Tennessee Waltz." Thought about the stories I never finished and finished a couple. Started more. Felt moral, felt ethical. Felt a number of things and came here to say them.

Forgive me, I haven't been myself lately, but I suspect I will be soon.


Blogger Ian said...

Darnielle was good enough, when I saw him in TO a few weeks ago, that I wished I'd been able to follow him on tour.

12:02 PM  

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