You may remember I went through a rough patch in late 2005/early 2006: losing your mom, and then breaking up with The Reason You Moved Across The Ocean can shake a person to the foundation, I've heard. Well, I'm happy to say I'm doing much better now. Here in Korea, they say Autumn is a melancholy time, the best time of the year for nostalgia and retrospection. I've been doing that, too, digging through my old diaries, poems, and e-mails to mull over the lowest low time I've had so far in my young life, to see what I picked up, like burrs from the brambles I walked through in the valley. So far, I like what I've found stuck to my clothes and hair: I walked out of that valley with some valuable stuff in my pockets.
Here are four songs that really, really helped me during that time. I sent them to some of my friends, listened to a few of them several times a day, during January, February, and March. And April.
This one is called Waiting For A Superman, by The Flaming Lips.
It's a really good song for when you feel sad, when you're ready to give up, when your ideals, principles, or heroes have let you down.
"It's a good time for Superman to lift the sun into the sky
is it getting heavy? Well I thought it was already as heavy as can be"
"Tell everybody waiting for Superman
that they should try to hold on best they can
he hasn't dropped them, forgot them, or anything
it's just too heavy for Superman to lift."
This one is from The Mountain Goats. Their album The Sunset Tree is a fairly autobiographical, and INCREDIBLY raw confessional about the songwriter's experience coping with an abusive father, and getting away from that situation, whatever the cost. The stubborn insistence on hope, both in the music and in the words, made this the song equivalent of my motto for a while. I'd hum it when I walked to work.
"I am gonna make it through this year
if it kills me"
Rage, sadness, hope, determination, desperation, revenge, grief -- this guy's lived it, and somehow got it all into this album. I still thank the Mountain Goats for it. I didn't listen to this one as much as some of the other ones on this page, but Good Lord, I needed this one.
Next, these are the two songs I'd listen to (along with the last two movements of Beethoven's Ninth, which I wrote about in the post linked above (and here again).
Thunder Road - follow the link and see what I wrote about it there.
This song was the surest, fastest pick-me-up in my collection. The Arcade Fire made an album called "Funeral", because during its recording, two or three band members lost parents or siblings. It was on most year-end top ten lists in 2005, and this, the opening track on that album, is like a revelation. The first twenty seconds (the musical intro), and then the chorus, are a filling-up with life in the face of partings, endings, and deaths, that can get you through a day. The song builds -- it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, like a rolling boulder gathering speed.
I like that part, but the chorus went through my head for an entire month (and it was a good thing, unlike MOST times a song sticks in your head for a month).
"You change all the lead
sleepin' in my head to gold,
as the day grows dim,
I hear you sing a golden hymn,
the song I've been trying to sing."
And this is the coda the song ends on, a call out for a purity of purpose, of living, that I needed at the time. The singer howls them out like a drowning man calling for help, desperate for life, desperate for purity, desperate to be full of. . . something.
"Purify the colours, purify my mind.
Purify the colours, purify my mind,
and spread the ashes of the colours
in this heart of mine."
Listen to it.
I hope you like these songs. I sure needed them . . . maybe they'll do some good for you, too. Music is intensely personal, so if they don't move you, that's OK, but they sure plucked the right strings in my, at just the right time.