I am playing this song, over and over and over again, because it is so empty. It’s like a retreat. Switch song on, switch brain off. There is nothing going on here.
Photograph by Julia Soler
Don’t say you love me when it’s just a rumour
Don’t say a word if there is any doubt.
Sometimes I think that love is just a tumour;
you’ve got to cut it out.
-Elvis Costello, Lipstick Vogue
I am a huge sucker for conspiracy theories. HUGE. I don’t seek them or anything, but if they catch me I am rather convinceable. For Christmas last year, as a mostly-joke, my brother gave me a subscription to Hard Evidence (and for some reason it is STILL arriving). They bill themselves as “the most controversial publication in the world” and apparently have been “EXPOSING THE TRUTH SINCE 1993”. I remember when I opened the gift card, I thought it was an awesome and hilaire present but… “crap! now the huge evil world secret government will know file that I’m someone who’s got an eye out for them and HUNT ME DOWN”. Honestly, I feel a little less safe having my name in its subscription base. Although they’re professional conspiracy theorists, so I guess they know how to encrypt data off the grid. It also has possibly the worst typography I’ve ever seen in print (they use a lot of Papyrus).
Which all leads up to the fact that yesterday I stumbled across this critique of Lady Gaga as an “Illuminati Puppet”, put here to make being vacuous and being mind-controlled acceptable so we will all succumb in an attempt to be trendy. And now I’m 95% amused and… the rest confused. Apparently the fact she winks or hides an eye all the time is a massive clue. Opinions? Is that guy kuh-razy, or are we all dupes? Would you get a brain implant if all the cool kids were doing it? What if it came with iTunes?
Semi-relatedly, I have spent the past hour wondering whether my life would be much different if I winked at every cute stranger I saw on the street. Do I dare me to do it for a week?
Ever since my first Mountain Goats concert back in ’05, I can’t imagine going for more than two years without a live John Darnielle performance. Last Friday was my fix. Despite being half incapacitated by a cold, and by a fear of running into a certain boy while dealing with said cold, as soon as I entered the venue I was buzzing.
If you’re not familiar with the Mountain Goats – they’re amazing. John Darnielle’s songs will wrestle with you. I love the specificity of his lyrics, which are full of unexpected turns of phrase and bright hard truths about being human and gloriously messed up. No vague love songs here. They open with lines like “King Saul fell on his sword, when it all went wrong…” or “On the day that Dennis Brown’s lung collapsed, spring rain was misting down in Kingston.”
Darnielle’s stage presence is a mix of manic energy, graciousness and sarcasm. He gives the best banter I’ve ever had, often meandering through the back story of a song for several minutes before playing the first note. And because a lot of these stories start ‘back when I was a meth addict’, they’re often kind of wild.
A couple of highlights on Friday:
1. No Children – The rollicking anthem to a poisonous, resigned relationship, which always has the crowd perversely off the hook:
“I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unloveable hand”
2. Twin Human Highway Flares [track 20 on that link]- Sung without a backing band, it’s all tender young love & longing leading to a motel room, mixed with a fierce refusal to ever relinquish the memories:
“As we walked across the parking lot toward the motel office
We were walking with a benediction on us
Light was everywhere, the building stood against the sky
Like a monument to desperation 2 floors high”
I wish I could transport you all back in time and across the world so you were standing right next to me in front of that stage. As a taster, I found this treasure of a site, which has a great collection of recordings of The Mountain Goats concerts – you can stream or download each entire set (free!).
I hate sex metaphors. This song is full of them. Painful ones. And yet, and yet.
I’m drunk. I’m drunk.
And you’re probably on pills.
If we’ve both got the same diseases,
It’s irrelevant girl.
It’s gotta be all in the glorious way he hits the “irrelevant”, that has me feeling all odd and swoony over STDs.
Dear Mr Cohen,
We haven’t had a chance to fall in love yet. Please get well soon.
Before it get’s too ridiculous, in a get-over-it-already kind of way, here are my last two NYC posts for A Cat On The Wall:
Who Isn’t Afraid of Patrick Wolf – in which I get all gushy over the British bombshell and bitch out the band who opened for him. I actually feel kinda bad about how scatterbrained that post is because Patrick deserves far more attention and kudos than I could muster at 1am when I wrote it. Check out The Magic Position & Wolf Song vids at the bottom of this entry if you wanna see for yourself.
Five Things I’ll Miss From Friday – Just a meandering through a few of the things I’m pining for. If I wanted to wallow in self-pity I’d now add: warm poppyseed bagels with thickly spread cream cheese, the eternal promise of celebrities just around the corner, boys who are not blokes, getting drunk on the proximity of multiple Picassos, buskers on the subway (ok they were annoying at the time), cocktails on rooftops, and summer summer summer. But! People understand what I am saying on the phone here and that makes up for a lot.
P.S. My second post at A Cat On The Wall is up: here. I am supposed to be talking about music, but I mostly embarrass myself regarding pats on the back for public transport and high school crushes that still have a hold on me.
I love xkcd and am off to do just this… (worst grammar ever?)
I love this video interview with Lady Gaga.
She’s blank in such a cultivated, angry way.
Concerned, Patronising Australian Interviewer: So, if you had to give up one of these three things: Sex, Fame and Music, which are three things you’ve become so iconic for —
Lady Gaga: That’s a ridiculous question. I wouldn’t give up any of them. I’d cut my leg off.
* * *
I’m not going to be here forever. One day I have to go back to real life where people recognise you. Until then, I need to dress up more. Have goth days and pirate days and princess days. Try out all the things I don’t dare down Lambton Quay and Queen Street.
Hold me to it?