The Day The Music Died

I have a funny habit of only being capable of liking one person, place, object or work of art at any given time. I have no idea when or where this bizarre trait came about. I really wish I could change it. It’s a nightmare at parties. Conversations abound about all sorts of fascinating topics and yet I feel only qualified to speak about whatever oddball and usually obscure topic happens to have burrowed it’s way into the confusing mess that occupies the space in my skull where medical science insists a brain should be. I have yet to come across a medical diagnosis for such an affliction. I am going to speak about one such mental obsession today.

We’ll keep working on the problem although we’ll never solve

All life’s uneven remainders

Our lives are fractions of a whole.

I was utterly obsessed with the music of Bright Eyes. It began one summers morning in a student house/den of iniquity in a leafy Dublin suburb. I had been awake for some two days without sleep. During that period of time I had been to four parties, two nightclubs, three kebab houses and the headquarters for Scientology in Ireland (Don’t ask – I was promptly removed when it became clear my motivations for being there were less than genuine). MDMA makes you love things. Everything! There were two men left standing or more accurately wobbling: me and a dear friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since school. God knows where we met each other or how we came to be in that room. All we knew is that we loved each other. He asked me have you heard of Bright Eyes man. I replied that I had not but I was pretty sure that, given the circumstances, I would love it.

I’ve got a flask inside my pocket we can share it on the train

and if you promise to stay conscious I will try and do the same.

We might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain.

What’s so normal in the evening by the morning seems insane.

As it turns out I did rather love it. Music always seems to speak to particularities of the general situation you find yourself in your life. That is to say that lyrics speak more directly to you when they speak about you. It seemed to me that this gawky emo kid from Nebraska was singing about me. He was surely observing me. Perhaps I was actually suffering from multiple personality disorder and I was oblivious to a whole altar ego with a promising career as a folk singer/songwriter:

Contemplative soul trapped in a meaningless and shallow existence: CHECK.

Catholic guilt: CHECK

Drug and alcohol abuse: CHECK

A love of metaphor and a desire for salvation: CHECK

String of disastrous relationships: CHECK

Inability to operate in normal society as a fully functional person: Double CHECK.

So, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning became the anthem for my life. It was all I listened to for roughly a year. Ask any of my friends if they like Bright Eyes and they will instantly retort with a negative. They will no doubt scan the room to see if I am within earshot and quickly change the subject so as not to allow me to get started.

And the world’s got me dizzy again

You’d think after 22 years I’d be used to the spin

But it only feels worse when I stay in one place

So I’m always pacing around or running away.

But time stops for no man. The same is true for me and my altar ego. A few years older and hopefully a little wiser (at least more weary), the music that so long dominated me no longer resonates with such force. Perhaps it’s because of the seemingly universally unanimous opinion of a decline in the quality of his music? NO! Perhaps it is because I no longer feel the need to analyse my situation and have become wedded to the past? More likely! Living in the past has some obvious disadvantages. However, it has freed me from an obsession that was bordering on pathological.

I know a girl who cries when she plays her violin

because each note sounds so pure

it just cuts into her

and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes

and now everything else just sounds

like a lie.

Until I learn to live in the here and now again, I doubt very much that one musician will ever come to dominate my psyche again. But you just never know!


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