26 March 2008

Panic Cliffdiving with the Internal Loop

I must be getting sentimental for my high school years, or at least what I want to remember of those years. I don't know if it's the recent email invite back to my 20th high school graduation, or my utter disdain for everything sounding so damn rap-based on the radio these days (and I'm not totally against rap, but c'mon, everyone's doing it so much now the original goodness of the medium is diluted), or the fact that last week a friend noticed I have a few gray hairs peeking out from my temple area. (Of course, they were not really gray hairs, but rather the result of bad lighting coming down from the sun on a partly cloudy day. Never trust the sun.)

Dear God, I even am culling together a '80s mix CD of some of my favourite songs from the period...which is supremely difficult for me to pull off, as I so desperately need the wisdom of long-lost friend Amanda to do this correctly. Amanda was then, and in my eyes now still, the Great Decider of Taste and Cool. Sorta like Simon Cowell with a conscience and heart and a disarmingly quirky laugh, if you can imagine such a thing. So I've been giving old faves a new listen, with a more refined urgency in my ears: is "Night Moves" by Bob Seger still the best rock ballad ever? Whose howl is more likely to awaken the inner beast in us all...Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Robert Plant in his prime? Some, even, along the lines of what the fuck was I thinking listening to this???

It's odd how far you can travel and grow, yet the very basic moments of a certain time of your life always stay with you. As much as we all need and (dare I say it?) even want change, the more things trigger inside us to make us want certain elements in our lives to remain static, frozen in a warm memory where the world is skewed just how we want to remember it. The similarity between myself and that of John Cusack's musically and nostalgically obsessed 'Rob' character in "High Fidelity" has been highlighted countless times by my friends and foe alike...for we replay these trespasses of our history without participating in the present, let alone the future. And just like 'Rob' was in that classic (but unheralded) film, each song and album I own practically has an entire relationship with me, a crutch, if you will, that takes me back to my bolder and more hopeful days. If I loved a song or album or artist enough, I bought their music (back when the music was tangible, mind you) and was transported to another place, another world, another life. It hit me the other day, as I dusted my CD towers stacked in the office room, that I really have not found any music that has generated that kind of inspiration for me in a very, very long time.

But I've decided to give it another try...mainstream radio and listening to the 'new' around me in all forms, that is. Perhaps in my railing against what a corporate whore most large radio broadcasters here in the US has become, maybe I have missed what made it all worthwhile. Becoming jaded to an old love is almost, if not more, as dangerous than never knowing the love at all. Soon resentment, regret, and disappointment builds as all parties realise we can't ever go back to a time and a place where it all began for us...and then it just goes downhill from there. Somehow a line has to be drawn as to how much one is still willing to take before going in another direction, even if that direction means over a cliff of memories that can't be relived again. For better and for worse.

Ladies and gentlemen, Friends of Blog, I give you my first new recent selections. The jury is still making up its mind on both, but at least they engaged the jury, which is a feat in and of itself these days. Both scream something I can identify with: whether it be the sound of the 'heavy' '80s I so half-ashamedly miss, or the new sound of an established band that has kept up the beat since those headier, and perhaps more glory-filled days (or at least it was for them).

Up first, is a band called Atreyu, with a song called "Falling Down". Forgive the video itself...and ignore that it's on an energy drink page for sponsorship, too...as my viewing had a lot of scenery complete with actors cut off the sides. Forget the video (well, at least the Missing People version, anyway), and give the song itself a listen. Interesting lyrics, good beat, and even a throwback Slash-inspired guitar solo. You can see their video here, although some enterprising person should have it at YouTube soon enough. Love the song, but I'm not feeling the video at all. Watch blind if that works for you.

Secondly, I give you indie then mainstream then 'trend-setting' REM. Yes, they're still playing and recording after all of these years. And with a new album to be released next week, and a tour that rolls through here on June 10 to boot. Definitely not "Stand", nor "Everybody Hurts", but I'm not sure that's a wholly bad thing. Relevancy is only a four letter word away these days, anyway, and since 'change' has been co-opted by every surviving Presidential candidate, words can be weapons again. Stipe & et al can still turn a vivid image in this new single, and especially for those of us rereading that 20th High School Reunion email. And for those of us who choose to ignore the gray hairs, in all possible forms.

REM in "Supernatural Superserious", from YouTube, © 2008

Damn it, though, we're all showing the signs we're not so naive anymore. And there always has to be a sense of wonder and naivete for music to really take hold, a sense that these chords haven't been played before, that these lyrics were written just for you, and you alone. I want my enthusiasm for music back.

Admittedly, I'm curious if wonder and amazement can be duped to accept change, or instead they just form a thick brick wall that deflects all future intruders. I'm also a bit downbeat about how I'm already looking back, and relatively so soon. But it makes me think if what I really want is the fearless enthusiasm of youth...or rather the release from the panic that mortality will be someday be mine, too, that comes all too often with age. And I wonder if that fear will ever be cool.

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