I'm not a very good journal-keeper anymore. I used to be, once upon a time. It was at a time I felt the need to be deep and cryptic in poetry-laced entries that used symbolism of which only I knew the meaning. When rereading old journals, I no longer remember the symbolism. If I'm lucky, I can kind of remember what triggered the entry. But now? I can't be bothered to be deep or cryptic or even poetry-laced. I'm blunt. I tend to say what I mean and feel whether I should or not. And now, when I feel the need to attach symbolism to something, it tends to be the poetry of others, usually in song form. And now, instead of pointing people to my unintelligible journal entries, I make mixes. It's tough for me because there's so much music out there I want the people to whom I'm close to hear and relate with in a meaningful way, like I do.
So I recently made a mix titled "If It Means Something, Let It Go Mix." It's not my most imaginative title ever, but I think it'll do. It's not deep or cryptic, but gets right to the point. This is a mix of 16 songs that have meant something to me since I graduated from college. And one song that I told a friend I'd toss on a mix for him since he's a Doctor Who fan and I just learned what the hell a Tardis is.
Without further ado, IF IT MEANS SOMETHING, LET IT GO MIX:
01 9 Crimes
- Damien Rice
The mix starts off with this hauntingly beautiful song about cheating on a neglectful partner. It's one of the few songs I can think of that makes one empathize with the person doing the cheating. I first heard this song on XM Radio one day when I was driving and actually had to pull into a parking lot to listen to it. If I said it didn't strike a chord with me because of what I had been going through at the time, I'd be lying. Granted, my situation was slightly different. But it's a remarkable song whether or not you identify with it. It features guest vocals by Lisa Hannigan
, whose voice compliments Damien's very well.
02 Skeleton Key
- Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
This follow-up is a song very much about being the neglectful partner. In this case, the narrator is clearly not invested in the relationship in the same way that his girlfriend is. He's a taker, not a giver, and I think he's a bit surprised that she hasn't left him already, since she could be with anyone. It seems that this is his breakup song. Or his penance. Either way, in this case, his lock is broken. She can't open him up. She needs to move on. While I've never treated anyone horribly, or been treated horribly, I've been neglectful and neglected. I think the song describes most "little relationships that couldn't" very well.
03 Dragon Lady
- The Geraldine Fibbers
Another dysfunctional relationship song, this time with a self-destructive slant, Dragon Lady is full of reckless abandon and the eschewing of social expectations. The Geraldine Fibbers remind me of a mix of Janis Joplin
and Patti Smith
, and this song is full of the raw emotion typical of both of those artist. In this case, much of the emotion is anger, lust, and frustration. We are meant to be scared of the behavior in the song, even while we're longing to be able to let go enough to have this wonderful breakdown. It would feel so much better just to let it all out.
04 We're Not Having Any Fun
- Lola Ray
On the surface, this song seems to be about a bit of reckless abandon as well. It's a plea for physical intimacy. But I don't think it's entirely about sex. I think it's a love song, or rather, a lost love song. The narrator is longing for the beginning of the relationship, when there was a connection, physical or not, that he hadn't felt with anyone else. The relationship has lost it's spark. And they're now just going through the motions. He wants the connection again.
05 When We Were Wolves
- My Latest Novel
Though repetitive and seemingly meaningless, I'm quick to defend this song to those who find it annoying. And I've run across quite a few of those people. The meaning I can glean from this song is specific to me. In fact, I think it would have to be specific to anyone trying to glean a meaning, since it's so open to interpretation. My meaning: This is my interaction with people in which I have an interest, romantic or platonic, until I get to a certain comfort level. In person, I run. I hide. And once I'm well-hidden, I spew this long stream of personal stories and whatever emotion happens to be most prominent in my life at the time. Since I can't see them, I can safely hide myself from their reaction. I'm hiding, but notice me, please. The internet facilitates. Strangely enough, more than a few people have attempted to get my attention in much the same way.
- The Letterpress Opry
or Mayflies Of Johnson County
Iowa is where I learned to hide. Most people only know Iowa from the flat stretches surrounding the interstates. Indeed, that's the saddest part of Iowa. The decrepit farms, the roadside memorials, the signs of flood or drought in the fields (which is really just a sign of how close the farmers are to being without home or job).... All of these things just hide the heart of Iowa from people passing through. The people are good, though not perfect. There are plenty of hills and timber and bluffs and rivers and prosperity, but you can rarely see it when passing through. In cities large cities and suburban sprawl, people learn to hide among crowds of nameless faces. In Iowa, you hide alone with your thoughts. And you may never be found.
07 Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck)
- David Ford
It's another relationship song, but it's a different kind of relationship. It's a relationship of convenience. It's for those of us who would like to hide alone with somebody else, when people stay together because they believe it's better than being lonely. They really have nobody else.
08 Ain't Got No/I Got Life
- Nina Simone
But let's focus on what we've got.
09 Take This Waltz
- Leonard Cohen
Translated and adapted from a Frederico Garcia Lorca poem, a song to describe what we want. Whether it's good for us or not.
10 My Body Is a Cage
- Arcade Fire
And on to the obstacles of getting what we want/need. This is probably the song on the mix I identify with the most, though we'll leave the specific reasons a mystery for those who don't know me. And I love the musical build in the song: nearly A Capella with a low drum, adding a barely perceptible organ (which gets more gothic as we go), then the addition of some choral background and the organ a bit louder, and to the culmination of the emo lyrics, gothic organ and choral mixed with the surprise emphasis of random march drum rolls and brass instruments and possible hand bells? There are probably a couple other instruments in there that my ears aren't musically trained enough to pick up.
11 A Scale, A Mirror, And Those Indifferent Clocks
- Bright Eyes
The first time I heard this song, I thought it was boring. And the more I began to identify with it, the more it described my relationship with society (in general) and what society expects versus what I want society to accept. The image of the mirror versus the identity. The palpable versus the impalpable. There's never enough time to live up to expectations or to gain acceptance. We're always left wanting.
12 Lilac Wine
- Jeff Buckley
I've not heard Nina Simone's version of this song, but, though I love her, I think Jeff Buckley's vulnerability is the perfect match for the song. As for the song itself, it's a hallucinatory ode to the dead love, one taking him/herself to the brink of death, and possibly death itself, for one more chance to be with the one s/he loves. But it's more about the lengths we go to in order to feel comfort...in order to get what we need rather than just what we want. But at what cost? Is it worth giving yourself completely? Is that the only option?
13 Be Somebody
- Kings of Leon
And now we're getting what we think we need in an entirely different way...by acting the part and doing what's expected of us. Fulfill society's expectations and, what's more, succeed in doing so. Don't fold under the pressure and refuse to come out of hiding behind the confident veneer. Make them love you.
14 To Build a Home
- The Cinematic Orchestra
This song is one of the most moving versions of "you can't take it with you" I think I've ever heard. A relationship is built on the idea of forever. Things are perfect and quaint and everyone is happy and feels at home. But eventually things start falling apart. The foundation starts crumbling, though it's hard to tell from within. Only once we step outside and look at the relationship can we tell that we're struggling to hold onto something that's long ago turned to dust.
15 6 A.M. Jullander Shere
In translation, a song about acceptance and union. A religious song subscribing to no specific religion, and asking for forgiveness for the pursuit of creature comforts rather than truth and freedom.
16 Staring At The Sun
- TV on the Radio
One of the sexiest songs about death, by far. The lyrics blend sex and death, perhaps la petite mort at the end of life, or perhaps the letting go of self as you give into coupledom. Either way, it's a release both sexual and desperate.
17 All Things to All Men
- The Cinematic Orchestra
(feat. Roots Manuva
And finally, the song featuring the Tardis. Mixing "progress" and religion and hip hop culture and grief and taking responsibility for your actions and...Doctor Who. I feel overwhelmed by this song. But I do like it.
Does anyone know what shegree is? Because I really don't. Possibly another word from something I know nothing about? The internet is no help on the subject. It might not even be shegree he's saying, but the internet seems to think so.
Anyway, the end of that mix. I'm sure I'll post more here. I hope to, eventually, have a few readers besides myself.