I been through many times in which I thought I might lose it
The only thing that saved me has always been music — Beastie Boys
Whenever I feel like I’m starting to slip over the edge of reality a little more than normal, it’s always been my thing to start listening to really crazy people in an effort to convince me that everything’s still okay.
So recently, I picked up Syd Barrett’s new “best of” compilation, and I downloaded a copy of Brian Wilson’s Smile as envisioned and mixed by a particularly enthusiastic fan. As great as these artists are, I still found myself lacking the usual comfort that these types of album tend to give me. I mean, Smile would have probably been a good album, but I no longer think it would have changed the world. Songs like “Do You Like Worms” and “Vege-tables” might sound cool, but there’s not much there to really connect to. I prefer songs about girls. And Syd Barrett let me down too. He ended up sounding like Ringo Starr singing music written by the Rutles. Effervescing Elephant? Come on! These albums weren’t helping me get through my rough times at all. What’s up?
Music is my savior
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was tamed by rock and roll — Wilco
And then along came an album that rocked my world. After dealing with some seriously heavy shit lately, I was turned on to an album that lifted my spirits in a way that only truly great music can. For me. Some people feel the true presence of God when they pray. I don’t feel that. I’m happy some people do though. It gets them through tough times, and they need it.
We all do.
And the closest I can get to that peace that passeth understanding comes from listening to exactly the right music at exactly the right time. On the way home from work tonight, I stopped by my local record store and picked up the Mountain Goats‘ All Hail West Texas. Then I listened to it closely as I folded laundry and cleaned the apartment. A few times I had to sit down and focus on it. I played the first song twice in a row like a teenage girl in 1986 playing “Somebody” by Depeche Mode over and over at the beach. No shit, I had to repeat the second song again after I played it too.
I thank God right now for John Darnielle and his Mountain Goats. I’ve been reading his site for several months now (thanks to Michael Goldberg), and am constantly amazed by his ability to write about bands I know I won’t ever want to listen to and still keep me interested. His own music is stripped and as lo-fi as music can be, recorded on a boom box in his central Iowa home. But it sounds perfect tonight.
And right now, it’s just what I need.