You get so emo sometimes: written last night.

For some reason, there are times when there’s an almost overwhelming urge to put every song I have into my playlist, shuffle ‘em, and keep clicking skip so I just hear the sad, beautiful ones. I’m not sad: at least, I’ve got no cause to be, nor do I show any of the symptoms; I’m not a morose person in general but I’m only human and as is the western, modern, human condition, occasionally I am beset by a melancholia that’s only assuaged with beautiful, sad, pop songs.

As a result, I’ve worked through Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart; Ben Folds’ Landed; The Smith’s Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, No Promise Have I Made by Husker Du (seriously cranking the red rawness of Hart and Mould’s hearts here) and so forth.

I’ve slightly fallen out of love with pop music in recent times, not really having many of these moments and not really needing cheering up or soothing very often. It’s a tragedy in many ways, and I can’t help thinking I’ve missed out on much. Not the new bands: those I’ll catch up to if I have the inclination. But those old ones, that I keep discovering and adopting as old friends. There was a time, for instance, before Kristin Hersh meant anything to me, before Cat Stevens had tugged my heartstrings with his guitar strings. Gosh, even before Nick Cave. I have much more to grasp at once I’ve exited the post New Year’s cashflow slump; I’m going to update me some Ben Folds based on Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs. Yes I’m going to investigate the blog-beloved Burial, but I’ll also probably listen finally to those Elvis Costello records I bought, and probably thief as many Tom Waits albums as I can off of various willing (or not) accomplices.

Because, while I can thing of a hundred and one things more important in life than pop music, occasionally I like to listen to a song, sometimes I don’t care what, sometimes I do, sometimes it just needs to make a change from my usual pattern of just listening as background music. Sometimes it needs to be Landed.

It’s the only Ben Folds song I know, which I didn’t know I knew, until I knew it. If you follow. It’s a big piano-based number from the little frog-looking fellow, and for me it’s strangely reminiscent of so many experiences that I’ve never had, but understand entirely. Ben Folds shows extraordinary male empathy here, the resignation and acceptance of failure sure to ring a bell with most boys of my age. Somehow I associate Folds with Dave Eggers in my mind, but I’m not sure why.

Occasionally, I brutalise myself and listen to James Carr. This man is simultaneously the most joyous and the most painful listening experience one can hope to have. Listening to the legendary To Love Somebody is like leaping with exaltation while concurrently spitting with bitterness and injured pride.

I go through phases with these things: for a while, even Mr Brightside would slay me. I wonder if it’s all to do with these mysterious vicarious experiences that popstars, film stars, cartoon characters seem to have. I seem to have some sort of cosmic balance where I get to be at least a little happy and a million teenagers are required to strop around in stripy hoodies listening to Jimmy Eat World. So I can live without your experiences, thanks, and just as I type Frankie Valli has entered stage left with Walk Like A Man, and what do you know, the journey is complete. I don’t need to be emo, my computer plays wonderous doo-wop at me.

Who says pop songs ain’t cathartic?

Ben Folds – Landed

James Carr – To Love Somebody

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4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the James Carr…very nice.

  2. For your brand of temporary melancholia, I recommend Nick Cave, particularly “Into My Arms”

  3. […] Morrissey’s Everyday Is Like Sunday; Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run; Ben Folds’ Landed and so on. These are songs with such pathos, such eloquence, such subtle splendour, that they […]

  4. […] it was Morrissey’s Everyday is like Sunday, but I can also count To Love Somebody and Landed in there). With Springsteen, I’m having difficulty deciding just what that would […]

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