I was in a band for a couple months. I got really drunk one night, again, and Brian Glover told me to leave and never come back. Has anyone ever told you to leave and never come back? You get used to it. Most of that night is blacked out but there’s a fragment of memory that hangs somewhere in my mind like an old painting in an abandoned museum: outside, the amp was so fucking heavy; I was walking all lop-sided, holding it against my leg with my guitar in my other hand; snow bit my ankles like January snakes; I remember that alienated feeling once again that only the most selfish people can possibly know; but then I stopped, drunk and freezing, to stare at the moon; and it occurred to me that the hidden blessing of loneliness is a unique and singular relationship to things like the moon and being cold and the wildly vivid sensation of being alive against the backdrop of wishing you were dead.
It hurts like hell, sure, but you have to pay the price to shine in the dark.
All that to say I was in a band for only a couple months and yet I remember the ecstatic sensation of being submerged, losing myself, in the depths of a group effort. And sound. What calls us away into the truth of forgetting more intensely than music?
Though sometimes it’s a source of confusion and frustration, I’ve been recently fascinated by the slow deterioration of my memory. Intrigued, I imagine a kind of goop clogging up my neurons as I struggle to recall things that used to simply fire through my mind at will. I try to remember something from a few days ago and I feel neurotransmitters ramming into walls, clutching messages that get lost in the mail. Man, I used to be razor sharp—I remembered details like burdens—but I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday without pausing to stare, sort through a few thoughts, and wait.
Which infuses the things that still possess the power to scar themselves into memory with curious significance and magic. No longer everything, why just these things? My daughter skipping across the crosswalk. The collection of 3 people at the bus stop when I run by in the early morning. Gwen, in her closet, looking at dresses. I remember some things in the vivid way that things happen right now. Why?
And then there’s this guy I know, Kris, at the end of the last song of the set on the first night of Listener’s most recent tour. Beating—and I mean BEATING—his drums about every 5 seconds until the song faded into nothing and we all became people again. Here’s the thing. I remember loving the song but I couldn't remember the song. Let me invert that for emphasis. I couldn’t remember the song, but I loved it—the formal aspect of loving itself voided of content. Except for that final image of Kris. Beating his drums so hard that he was doing more than beating drums.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe some memories stick because they’re more than what they are: some archetypal something else that’s always happening and constantly searching for ways to be memorialized in the images that populate our everyday lives.
The hidden blessing of loneliness is the moon shining through you until the January cold is a guy beating on drums like he’s trying to break you out of prison. We are not us. There’s a way out. Just hold on. There’s a way out.
The song referred to above is Track 8 on the band's latest unreleased album, so you can't hear it yet. But here's this. And this is, yeah, just listen.