The Year. Interlude: Nothing can possibly be fundamentally and intrinsically shit all the time.

This guest-post is by Ana from Ripped Knees. It is, I suppose, about personal experience of music and “just how I learnt this year that certain music can make you feel, you know, really happy and actually kind of really glad to be alive”

I’ve never been much good at writing about music because most of my reference points for music are things like ‘concrete’ or ‘grass’: nouns that make perfect sense to me but little to anyone else. Examples: ‘I’d say that song is crimson, with accents of gunmetal’. However, I am determined to get something sensical out of my incoherent brain. See, I do spend a lot of time thinking about music, and listening to music and even talking about it and all, I just do a terrible job at expressing myself. But it is there. I save it all up in my head like some kind of sense-data bank, to the point where hearing a single song takes me so instantly to a particular moment in time. Obviously, this is not something that is unique to me. However, I will endeavour to explain to you just how I learnt this year that certain music can make you feel, you know, really happy and actually kind of really glad to be alive, not just instantly and momentarily but overall, like some kind of vitamin taken daily to cure the blues that can strike at random.

The Antlers – The Universe Is Going To Catch You

I’m a big fan of the sublime. I know that some cynical, pessimistic people kind of refuse to believe in it, but I’m a born optimist and I love the things that make you look to the skies and think ‘I am but a small part of something much much bigger, and that is okay because above everything else I am very much alive right now.’. Things which make me feel this way include being by the ocean, very large works of art and listening to The Antlers in the cold at night. I am not sure when this happened but I think I got off a bus around 8pm on the way home from college one night and The Universe Is Going to Catch You was on my iPod and it was really fucking cold, like the kind where it kind of hurts to breathe and really, I probably shouldn’t be happy because I was in the library all day and basically didn’t see daylight and it’s been a rubbish week but god, I can see my breath so clear and right now I am definitely a living person in a very big world and that is really, really cool. Since then, I consistently try to recreate this moment. I hit play just as the bus rounds the last corner and try to look up through bare branches at the sky and feel it all. Most of the time it works.

Tiger Trap – Supercrush

You know when it’s cold? January. January’s shit. This year I had the flu really, really bad and even after I was better, I had a good two weeks where I couldn’t see any good in the planet at all. Couldn’t eat or drink or read or anything. Apparently this happens whenever there’s a really bad strain of flu going around. However, in order to prevent me crumpling in public I was given kindly some apparently mood-altering music. This included Heavenly, Tiger Trap, Dublin Duck Dispensary and Bright Eyes amongst others. Now, I’m not sure if this will work for everyone, but something about such bouncy, almost obnoxiously happy songs kind of made me realise that the January blues don’t last forever and nothing can possibly be fundamentally and intrinsically shit all the time.

Wolf Parade – I’ll Believe In Anything

But yeah, I realise that not everyone has the inherent sapdom and saccharine edge that I for some reason possess. And that listening to twee is not automatically going to make you think ‘God, it’s awesome to be alive right now!’ And that is why there is a third category of music to make you feel alive. These are the songs you turn up really loud when you’re drunk with your mates to cheer along to. This is something that I’ve really only learnt about recently, as many of my close friends have begun having house parties to celebrate their turning 21. There comes a stage in the night, usually after all the booze is gone and at least some of the revellers have left, where some tune demon gets ahold of the iPod and turns on Holland, 1945. After you’ve hopped around and mourned Anne Frank’s death 64 years ago, they turn on I’ll Believe In Anything. At this point, it’s probably a good idea to make sure there is nobody in the room you are trying to impress, as you will grabbing the person beside you to tell them to give you their eyes because “I NEED THE SUNSHINE”.

Das Racist – Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

But that’s okay, you’re amongst friends here. You’re drunk, you’re dancing and you’re with your mates. It’s a very good feeling. Next up we’ll probably have some hip-hop, maybe Ghostface or else Jay-Z – something everyone knows the words to, either way. Then maybe Bizarre Love Triangle. Then a couple of wildcard choices. The only bad part is when somebody foolishly changes from Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (truly a modern classic) to, I dunno, U2 or Lady Gaga and you realise that actually, it’s 5am and you’re kind of sleepy and you should probably go home now. The memory lives on, though. You’ll wake up the next morning with ringing ears and some trace of a grin in the wake of some awful Wolf Parade and gin hangover, shaky and sore but overall, happy and aware that last night was a bit of a laugh.

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3 responses to “The Year. Interlude: Nothing can possibly be fundamentally and intrinsically shit all the time.

  1. “January blues don’t last forever and nothing can possibly be fundamentally and intrinsically shit all the time.”

    That’s a pretty life-affirming way to start the year.

  2. I always wonder what it must have been like before ‘personal stereos’, when you could go throughout life without that personal, outdoors, solitary experience of music. Or when you had to wait all the way until you got home before you could distract/entertain yourself with music.

    As for the other two points, I have too much misanthropy – and a terrible memory for lyrics – to enjoy sharing naff music with other (drunk) people. what’s that, music is supposed to be ‘fun’ to listen to?!

    really good piece.

  3. Imagine how much more thinking got done before you could portably project yourself into bands.

    I think my personal equivalent of the singing along thing is more ‘ridiculous dancing to Animal Collective’ or ‘inappropriate moshing to Jay Reatard’ or other physical-communal music appreciation moves with fairly select groups of people. But I’ve definitely been there.

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