On one computer, the file is called DEADLY and I throw songs in it that are so crippling with the emotional stuff that to hear it is dangerous to well-being. Why even keep such things? But it’s important.
It’s been a long time since I listened to it.
Why hang on to music that causes one to weep bitterly? The sadness is a strange reaction; it’s not just lyrics that say “boo hoo” or sounds that wail just so - some alchemy of both or neither, some instrumentals, some were maybe intended to be happy songs at some point in their evolution but became symbols of deep pain - I had a friend who couldn’t listen to any Cocteau Twins at all, because of his romantic history, for instance -
- but it’s the music I love the most. I suppose some answer to all the vague questions about longing and beauty are kept in there, somewhere. The value I take from listening to music that causes me pain is catharsis. Whether or not it is always healthful is debatable, but that it is sometimes necessary to withstand it is beyond dispute.
Arvo Pärt’s compositions for the masses at the vatican have it - not all of them, but some of them. The sense of a beauty so great that it is terrible; we long for its presence then disintegrate when it is near, gnashing from the terror of greatness, a sense of life at a scale beyond the human.
“Moth” by Faun Fables. Heard that one? Ugh. Awful in its beauty, cruel in its truths. I’ve always liked moths, though. It’s direct, not mysterious, obvious why this would make me very sad, I’d think.
A couple of things from Efterklang’s album Parades seem to latch onto heaviness of the spirit and turn it from sentiment into experience (IE “waaaahhhhhboohoohoohoohooooooo”). ”Polygyne” is good.
SWANS, Soundtracks for the Blind, gold disc. No committing suicide!
Lately I’ve been listening almost exclusively to nonfamous artists on Soundcloud - so there’s things like this and this. A lot of the stuff that used to set me on fire or make me feel things has become nostalgia instead, which is different and less ambiguously self-indulgent.
I think part of doing this to one’s self might lay in the recognition that certain scabs healed too crooked, too cramped, too small, and that to move freely one has to stretch to full extension, no matter how much it hurts, let the blood flow, and tear away the bad scabs so that proper scars can form.
I’ve toyed around with the idea of an all-sad radio tumblr; let me know if you’d like that. Now that I’m a bit more stable I’ll be able to get back to blogging.
that I made a whole radio-station-simulating tumblr called Radio Sanity just for the purpose of inducing calm / oneiric two-dimensionality / unemotional equilibrium. It tends toward the ambient side of modern music, but gets dark, or light, or drones, and often includes cellists, classical guitarists, careful pianists, that sort of thing. I keep the beats to a bare near-nonexistent minimum there; tempo itself is selected carefully, with an ear toward the absolutely most soothing things that I find on soundcloud, tumblr, or my friends’ pages / channels / playlists / so forth. I put my own work there at a frequency of something around 1 Lokifreign piece per 200 songs. There are thousands of songs to listen to there, and a continuous streampad.
The jauntier or more fucked up things go to the Radio Attic.
Yes. I keep a playlist handy of them on all of my computers. There are general ones, and emergency ones.
Playing the whole album Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (Brian Eno, not the Chinese opera) will do the basic job - get me out of my glower, put me on a more focused / non-suicidal wavelength, or just accentuate a productively good mood. I’m usually singing along within the first couple of songs.
Somehow, to my shame, ‘Better Than You’ (SWANS) does the trick at aggressive / evil moments. Most post-early SWANS makes me want to smear blood & shit all over myself, crawl into the bathroom, and die, while early SWANS makes me want to set cop cars on fire and smash every smashable thing that I can get my hands on, but Soundtracks for the Blind has an overall effect that is calming and reorienting. For whatever reason. Other than that one and ‘Better Than You’, though, I’ve learned to leave off SWANS when my grip on life is at all weak.
Nick Drake can go either way, but it’s all the way, whichever way it is. When in the dark place, best to stick to Pink Moon from Pink Moon and leave’Parasite’ or ‘Things Behind The Sun’ for stronger times.
I don’t think it’s possible to listen to ‘Things Happen’ from Coil’s Love’s Secret Domain and not get happier, even though it’s a song that seems to be about burning to death because my prostitute has set the house on fire and we’re both too strung out on heroin to realize we’re already dead - or maybe it’s exactly for that reason. I sing along to that shit every time, even if actively weeping and searching around for razors.
Bobbi Gentry can do it as long as I’ve culled out all the stuff of hers that irritates me - about 1 in 3 of her songs really set me at ease, though, and can even give me a little glow.
‘Gymnopedie’ by Sati is pure happiness, for the creature I am. Not that I might not tear up a little, but it’s a good tearing up.
CocoRosie is another outfit that mixes the extremely dangerous with the medically beneficial musics. I can’t listen to ‘Lemonade’ except for certain death-defying occasions, but ‘The Sea Is Calm’ does good things for me, for instance. Weird eh. That whole album, Noah’s Ark, has the happymaking stuff. For me. Others may find it gloomy or creepy.
Anything by O Yuki Conjugate - anything - will fix me if I just let it keep playing. Primitiv and Peyote, especially, each have the good-goods. The song ‘Out Of Nothing’ from Undercurrents/In Dark Water is especially restorative.
There are a lot I’d type in just to satisfy my obsessive completeness but they are by friends, or myself, or friends-of-friends, and so wouldn’t register with people outside our set (though if you live in the Bay area, give Hobo Gobbelinz a try - too bad Chainz is no longer).
‘The Wizard’ by Sabbath. See what I’m saying?
Ollllld stuff, like Sea Duck Waltz, Rampi Rampi, Lamma Bada Yatathenna, and classics like Veslemøy’s Song, Beethoven’s 7th, Oum Koulthum singing anything, the like, will keep me sane.
Crucifucks - especially ‘Down On My Knees’ and ‘Hinkley Had a Vision’ - and later pure-punk or post-punk stuff like Big Black and Scratch Acid, have the ability to restore me to activity and focus, if not ‘happiness’ per se.
Marty Robbins. I don’t care who you are, what you pretend to “only” listen to - listen to Marty. I dare you to front like that doesn’t pick you up.
Virgin Prunes, Christian Death, Bauhaus, Einstürzende, Birthday Party / Bad Seeds, Siouxsie - there’s a nostalgia component that can simulate contentment or better feelings, but that power fades on the millionth re-listen.
Sometimes what I need is to get really intense - The Residents’ Animal Lover, the Walker Brothers’ Night Flights, Angelo Badalamenti’s stuff for Twin Peaks / FWWM, ‘Mary Waits in Silence’ by ˚93, ‘Ocean’ or anything off of Dead Can Dance’s first few albums do the needed intensification work.
I could go on and on and on like this. I am a music FIEND. I collect it and I never, ever, never ever let it go. I have every music I’ve ever bought. I listen to everything. There is no type of music that doesn’t have excellent examples. Dave Ray / Blues Project, for instance: try it. Screamin Jay Hawkins. The Commodores (I don’t give a damn about anybody’s raspberries, I love ‘Sail On’ so just deal). Fuckin ‘A Love Supreme’. Fuckin Spring Session M.
Your reply didn’t come right away because I was at the symphony with my mom and her mate; mostly it was so-so but the conductor kicked ass and they did a piece by Bizet that was truly moving. Music -
music is why to remain alive.
EDIT: oo oo oo: also Bow Wow Wow - also Stray Cats - also certain old Floyd tunes - also Syd Barrett!!! and Francoise Hardy!!! and Joan Jett!!!
Yes; my first year was ‘96, then in ‘98, then in ‘02. ’02 was a powerful ambivalence of good and terrible - I decided not to go to the big burn anymore after that, but I would be happy to attend any of the regionals; I may get an invite to Transformus one of these years.
I have a lot of feelings about it; some are pretty caustic. I loved it maybe a bit too much in the culmination of the ’90s. Somewhere I’ve got excellent pictures from ‘98, mostly taken by a woman I only met once, but she seemed to get shots of me at the best times. There were some really powerful potentials there…
I hope that someday those potentials are realized in a sustainable, non-corporate way. I hope that eventually its most potent participants learn how to put that energy into the world around them, into the lives of the people they are usually surrounded by. Something in my heart rejects the notion of burning all that is good in the most expensive and gas-intensive way imaginable.
Paul Addis, for all that one could say about him, made a very cogent point, RIP.
I’ll definitely always incorporate some of what I absorbed there - Leave No Traces is a really good way to approach lots and lots of life’s situations.
I’ll say that in ‘96 I was the tiniest bit let down that no willing king-like virgin fool was screaming “JESUSSSSS! OH GOD!!! OH MY LORD CHRIIIIST!!!” up in the Man’s head……
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
Ne swik þu nauer nu.
Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!