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.