Wait, they don't love you like I love you
Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O)
Spending a lot of time alone has made me revisit the soundtrack of my adolescence. Jack’s Mannequin, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, early Paramore. The songs that remind me of the optimism and manic energy of youth. It isn’t necessarily a simpler time that I’m trying to return to, but to a time where music used to feel more intense, to overwhelm me, to make me feel significantly smaller in the wider world. I‘m wondering where along the way have I lost this intensity to feel music, to let myself—as Andrew McMahon sings—slip into the airwaves.
Back then, any concept of a future seemed unattainable, outrageously unreal, and the thing that pulled me out of my own head was to find moments of revelry in the mundane present. I guess as I grew older and more preoccupied with finding my place in this world, I might’ve lost touch with my thoughts, becoming less attuned with my mind and body (incidentally, Justin and I informally think of this series of letters as “Attunement”).
In this period of confinement, I find myself reprogramming my mind to connect more deeply to the things I interact with. When I hear Andrew McMahon sing about a lover across the state—don’t panic we are hanging here—I feel his words closing the distance between me and the people I love, who I haven’t seen and hugged for weeks. I watch the music video again for Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s “Maps”, and I cry when Karen O cries, her usual majestic yelling whittled down to tender disquiet—wait, they don’t love you like I love you. I’m reminded again, that the compulsion to love, to connect, will see us through.
The present right now feels a lot like it did back then, chaotic, suspended in time with not much of an end in sight. But at this moment, I am grateful for new music coming out that reminds me that despair is ephemeral. Hayley Williams’s surprisingly disco-esque “Over Yet” is about dancing as praxis for persistence, resistance—break a sweat, baby tell yourself it ain’t over yet. Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver croons, please don’t live in fear, we can’t see it from here right now. Florence Welch releases a gift of love, saying don’t go blindly into the dark.
And thanks to Justin and the internet at large, I’ve been acquainted with Fiona Apple’s new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters, a major mood for survival and love letter to ourselves. Are we in and out of our minds yet? Given everything that’s going on, fetch the bolt cutters, whatever happens, whatever happens.
We are still here. We will run up that hill.
Love and light,
(From April 25, 2020)