January 17, 2007

timeless wavelength

Today I received three pieces of mail. One from a very old lady in England, a family member, reacting with pleasure to a Christmas letter I wrote her. Another was a package from Russia that I had to wait a half hour in the Post Office to get, amidst a group of septuagenarians, including the employees! God it was slow. Anyway, the envelope contained copy of West End Girls Goes Petshopping sent to me by a man in Moscow. Then I got to work, late of course, to find a DVD was sitting my desk: A Life In Pop, the Pet Shop Boys documentary. Tonight I’ve been watching it and thinking how much I love this band and how much their music has been a part of my life.

My relationship to PSB has not been linear - I didn’t even like West End Girls when it came out, though I would sing along with it. It's a favorite now, but it took awhile. I do remember, however, sitting in my freshman dorm room listening to a cassingle of What Have I Done To Deserve This and thinking it was the greatest pop song ever written. Well, I always think this with a new song, and honestly that one has never worn out for me. The final minute, with its layers of sound and Dusty’s “we don’t to fall apart, we don’t have to fight” used to give me chills and still does.

I have never taken a recreational drug in my life, literally. For awhile it was out of some pointless stance and now because the occasion never arises. I have never smoked one joint and in college I was never drunk. “Drunk” to me now is just an extra glass of wine and a certain giddiness. Get me tipsy and I’ll give you too much information about a sexual experience [edit! censored!]. That’s as altered as it gets. There's never been any real desire to lose touch with reality via substances.

Music, however, is my drug. I use it every day of my life as a way to manipulate my own emotions. Sometimes my mood dictates a song that will lift me up, other times I want to push the moroseness further. I want to feel soft, hard, whatever. The melancholy of a song about failed love, for instance, played on the Walkman or now the iPod. I could have a “relationship” with someone I was watching on the Metro, from start to finish, station to station. By the time I get off the train, the song has ended and we have broken up, this stranger and I.

I’m not alone in this, am I? That’s a statement more than a question. I relate to people who share this way of life. Sometimes I find that I can go a bit numb in serious emotional situations. Shock maybe, so I pick a song that will pull my emotions up and out. I’m really lucky to have that and I believe many people who read this blog know what I mean. It’s very personal at one moment and can become very communal in others. Music could be a capsule, an inhalation, liquid sloshing against ice in a glass, but it never hurts me.

I kept trying to add another sentence so the one just above would not seem so overwrought, but nothing fit. So be it! Carry on!

PS: I love the part of the video above at 2:17 where Chris Lowe is between the curtains and he takes a few spinning leaps.


RPC said...

... never dissipating, but giving us strength ...

Music as an outlet for emotions that are too difficult to deal with when events unravel? More specifically using the Pet Shop Boys for this exorcisim of pain? Right. I remember sitting on a beach on holiday when I was nineteen and was devastated but oddly defiant, having fallen out with my best friend. I listened to 'A new life' (an 80s b-side of theirs which perhaps you know; it's on the 'Alternative' album) time and time again and feeling actually empowered by it. When something shifts and changes in my life, I put it on again, all these years later.

I particularly liked the portion of the documentary where they are discussing 'Nothing has been proved' and reveal that the end section where Dusty goes bonkers, rather similarly to 'What have I done to deserve this?'; 'they may be false, they may be true...' etc, wasn't even written in the song and she just launched into it, to their surprise and delight: "we want you to sound like Dusty Springfield", etc etc.

Agree about Chris Lowe jumping around, but in that video, I have always loved the showgirl with the coke bottle glasses...

Yuri said...

Beautifully written! I totally agree with you about music being a drug; it's my drug too.

I also had the "cassingle"--lol-- of What Have I Done To Deserve This, and also one of the dance mixes I taped off the radio from a Saturday Night dance show. That song never gets old! It's sad that we no longer have Dusty around. Very nostalgic video.

I agree with rpc above in that I've always liked the showgirl in the coke-bottle glasses too. :)

torr said...

great post! I too have never really taken any type of drugs before, never even smoked a cigarette, and I'm 26.

trill42 said...

Wonderful post indeed. While I not only don't quite relate to your twinge-inducing condom horror story, but have made a mental note to never get you tipsy in hopes of forever avoiding it, I do relate to much of the rest of the post. I've never used an illegal drug either. I only drink semi-occasionally, and then not much. I definitely prefer music to alcohol/caffeine/any other drug. There is a genetic predisposition for some people to turn to drugs to help them cope, though, instead of turning to something healthier. That's one reason I'm for legalizing and heavily regulating illegal drugs. I feel badly for those who have a hard time sticking to things like music... A few too many of those lame-ass anti-drug ads might push them over the edge. The damn things made me wish I wanted to do drugs, just in defiance of their suckitude.

I adore that song, and the video is such fun. You had a good mail day.

xolondon said...

Thanks for your comments. I almost took that post down this morning. I've written some things like that before that were put back into draft. The condom story must be quite common?! It's really just an example of how loose-lipped I become with only a second drink. Hope it didn't sully the whole post. Really you should be *excited* by the image.

Hi Yuri!

V said...

I'm glad you have kept the post up, or ele I would have missed it. I so understand and it's the same for me as well. The whole music thing, the PSB experiance and how we need music to go with the soundtrack of our lives. I can't stand a day without my ipod on the train!

I especially love the part about having a relationship with that someone on the metro. I too have gotten married and divoriced with some stranger on the train. A couple of stops and poof. They dissapear. And there's always a song for it. Morrissey? or Marc Almond? PSB, it's all in there.

orange anubis said...

I'm glad you left this post around, too! Yeah, I'm just the same with music, especially when a powerful song comes up over the headphones on public transport.

WIth the PSBs, much as I go crazy for almost everything they've done, West End Girls has always left me a bit cold for some reason.

J'ason D'luv said...

Never done any drugs here, either. Jeez, here I thought I was the only one! Drinking on the other hand.... to quote the Pet Shop Boys:

We've lost all our money
We're thrown out of bars
We're lying in the gutter
But we're looking at the stars

In fact, I got thrown out of a bar just two years ago -- my favorite bar in Pittsburgh -- when I was visiting back home. I threw a pile of glasses against the wall in a heated discussion with a Log Cabin Republican.

Anyway, A Life In Pop is great! I've watched it three times since getting it in November.

In 9th grade, I used to walk the halls of my high school with my walkman on, listening to The Smiths, and imagined that perfect person would stumble out of the crowd and bump into me, and we'd have a total fleeting John Hughes romantic moment... Then 1989 ended, and I moved on to Black Box and Technotronic.