Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Papercut (Linkin Park)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creators by buying it.

Kurt Cobain once said that “Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.”

After so many months, and several incomplete Song of the Moment entries, it saddens me that I’ve finally been spurred into finishing one about such a disturbing composition. However, I’ve listened to this song more than 60 times today, and this is testament to the skill of Linkin Park in so accurately capturing that distinctive brand of claustrophobic, unhinged neurosis that is destroying my inner peace at the present time.

The staccato verse is as relentless as it is understated, building tension and anxiety, while the mash-up of archetypal images in the lyrics is nightmarish and unsettling. It also evokes, with great precision, a feeling more familiar than I would prefer to admit. Which is related to another topic that has vexed me in the past: to what extent should I censor my expressions of self online when I am gripped by negativity and torment?

On one hand, I would love to portray myself as some indomitable paragon of optimism and determination. To be sure, there is a compelling argument about presenting people with an image of greatness to which they can aspire, despite the truth -- whether it is known or not -- that the real person represented by that image is just as flawed as they are.

Speaking for myself, I don’t see any functional reason to document all my shortcomings down to the tiniest detail, but by the same token, my belief in honesty ultimately wins out. Therefore, if I feel terrible, I will say so. If I am afraid, I will admit it. If I make a stupid decision, I will not pretend that I haven't.

If you are incapable of being inspired or motivated by anything less than an infallible vision of heroism, I’m afraid you will not find that here. I consider it hypocritical and purpose-defeating to present myself as something I’m not; if anything, I personally think people who overcome their moments of downfall are far more admirable than those with such an iron will that they never fail in the first place.

The face beneath my skin may be pointing out all my mistakes to me, but at the end of the day, my collection of mistakes is what makes me human. And even though papercuts are much more unpleasant than their severity as an injury would suggest, they are not exactly life-threatening.

Once they are healed, I have some pretty fucking choice words in mind for that voice in the back of my head.

Check it out on youtube

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Here comes the flood (Peter Gabriel)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creator by buying it.

Many years ago I wrote a detailed exposition of the lyrics to this song, interpreting their wonderful diaspora of concepts through the prism of the Singularity, also described as the Technorapture.

Today this song takes on a new meaning for me; in the last few months, the circumstances of my life have become progressively more difficult and unpleasant, to the extent that I have actually experienced several short episodes of genuine depression. The unrelenting accumulation of negativity, in fact, was sufficiently intense to make me question my belief system and worldview.

Thankfully, I have managed to scrape together some modicum of perspective in this cruel and unusual onslaught of misfortune: I have started to see the pattern as a gathering of forces. It reminds me of nothing so much as the drawback that often takes place before a tsunami. There is nothing mystical about that, it’s a simple matter of physics, but it is still very dramatic to behold.

There is an old aphorism about night being darkest just before the dawn. That’s bullshit, of course, the darkest time of night is when it is midday on that part of the planet exactly opposite the observer. But the metaphorical idea resonates with most people, and in my own experience, it is a useful way to describe a very valid phenomenon.

There have been several occasions in my life when I have been faced with almost unendurable bleakness -- a very short time before the levee broke (to mix analogies involving bodies of water), and the forces of light once more flooded into my world, bestowing me with bountiful triumphs of the highest order. I’m sure many people can relate to a similar rebound from rock bottom coupled with a meteoric improvement in quality of life. Even if others only claw their way slowly back to happiness, while others still, sadly, encounter even greater hardship and it kills them.

Perhaps this way of looking at things is simply a survival mechanism; if so, then I welcome it, because it’s doing its job. If my intuition is accurate, though, then there is a flood of positivity building to a crescendo, somewhere just beyond my horizon. And that is a possibility I welcome even more.

Check it out on YouTube

Sunday, 31 March 2013

She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creators by buying it.

I am a big fan of The Cult. In addition to owning several of their albums -- which I legitimately purchased, and it is one of my little materialistic joys that I continue to buy CDs -- I saw Ian Astbury performing live with Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek once. It was a spectacular show, and one of the more memorable events of my life.

The band’s history is a tumultuous one, with a higher-than average turnover of personnel, troubling legal woes, and one Japanese tour that had to be cancelled because they wrecked all their equipment en route. However you would never guess this just on the basis of their music, which paints them as the epitome of an unassuming, distinctive, talented and straight-up hard rock band. I have never had any question of their artistic integrity, and in my opinion they are melodically and lyrically imaginative musicians.

‘She Sells Sanctuary’ has beautifully mystical undertones woven through its driving, energetic pulse; although it doesn’t feature the most poetic vocals that Astbury has come up with, it still gets its message across. And as with pretty much everything else in my internal firmament, it revolves around the most significant phenomenon of my life: the person who I think of as my sanctuary, the one individual who truly helped me find inner peace and who never fails to restore my calm when “the world drags me down”.

It’s a song I find hypnotic and arresting, but at the same time it fills my soul with ethereal veins of fire and opens my horizons to all kinds of magical possibilities.

Check it out on YouTube

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Photograph (Def Leppard)

Although Def Leppard’s lyrics are uniformly silly and lightweight -- and that’s putting it as gently as I can -- I still derive a great deal of joy from listening to their music. They consistently pack more career-making hooks into a single song than most contemporary bands can manage across three or four albums, and from that angle I consider them to be spectacularly talented musicians.

The circumstances surrounding Rick Allen’s loss of his left arm also win my admiration. Admittedly, the accident itself was pretty stupid, but let’s face it, he was 21 years old at the time. I don’t think many of us can claim they were much more responsible at that age, and certainly not if we had achieved similarly meteoric success by then. The band’s solidarity in standing by their injured comrade, as well as the singleminded determination of Allen himself in overcoming his limitation, serve as shining examples of human qualities that I consider particularly inspirational.

There is not a great deal I can say about this song that I couldn’t say about any of their other singles -- it grabs one’s attention immediately, then moves from strength to strength as it lights up the sensorium with its enthusiasm, excitement, energy, its high-spirited and uncomplicated sincerity. It is all but impossible for me not to feel cheerful and motivated when listening to this song, and for that I applaud Def Leppard unreservedly -- they have made my world a better place.

I suppose I do identify with one aspect of the sentiment expressed in these lyrics: until very recently, I had nothing but digital contact with my best friend. Metaphorically speaking, all I had was a photograph. Now that I have actually spent two radiant weeks with her, I have a new photograph to enjoy -- and it is rich with connotations of a wholly different kind.

Check it out on YouTube

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creators by buying it.

More often than not, the songs I feature in this section are in effect gifts chosen for me by the universe. This is not the time to exhaustively discuss my religious views, but I will acknowledge gifts like these are central to substantiating my belief that more complex facets of reality exist than just the Newtonian world.

The sheer specificity of this song ‘randomly’ intercepting my path on YouTube, on the very morning of what I think of as a new phase of my life that can accurately be symbolised by the tattoo over my heart, far exceeds what I am prepared to dismiss as coincidental. Before consulting the lyrics, I thought the relevant line was ‘enough to make my systems glow’, which reflects my own self-perception of being alive with ionising electricity at moments like this, when my soul feels enmeshed so harmoniously with the infinite.

Another issue that resonates me is the theme of awakening. For a time, I was so unhappy in life that I suffered from what you might call a lite version of Cotard delusion. Because I was already aware of the way reality interacts with the individual, even though my understanding of this interaction was far more crude than it is now, this delusion manifested itself in the suspicion that my consciousness was caught in some kind of ongoing simulation.

I did not entertain the idea of cryopreservation very seriously, in the spirit of Abre los ojos, but the film did prompt me to wonder if I could not ‘wake up’ from whatever malevolent curse was keeping me trapped in an ongoing nightmare. (See, even then, I had an instinctual sense of the extent to which a person can make an overwhelming change through a persistent application of their will and determination.)

I have experienced three significant ‘awakenings’ since then -- the third of these cemented what could be described as an enduring sense of happiness, understanding, peace and stability. This comprehensively satisfies the need that drove my repeated pleas to anyone ‘out there’ who might be listening: I want to wake up.

This song represents a meaningful communication of faith from the universe that it is indeed time to once again leave behind a collection of shortcomings, to shed a skin as it were, and move forward into a new age. I feel it in my bones.

“When I float, weightless, back to the surface, I imagine I am becoming somebody else.”

I’m waking up.

Check it out on YouTube