Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Skinny Puppy - Assimilate

Video footage of the live track below:

Video footage of the Ain't It Dead Yet performance of Assimilate:
Skinny Puppy-Assimilate (1986/12/10 Zopo in Horst, The Netherlands).mp3
Skinny Puppy - Assimilate.mp3

Ah, yes. Skinny Puppy. I thought I would change things up a little bit by throwing a bit of Ogre into the mix, you know, and get your ire up. Now, it should be noted that I am a fan, first and foremost, of live Skinny Puppy, far more so than their studio work (with a few exceptions - most notably the Remission mini-LP). Today's song, Assimilate, is a great song in the studio, but it is SO much better live. I mean, I almost don't really consider the studio Assimilate to really be Assimilate at all. In fact, I would ask that you listen to the live version provided here before you listen to the original studio recording.

This live recording is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the greatest things in the history of music. Now, many of you may disagree, as most people think Skinny Puppy sounds like a wildebeest vomiting up its own shit, but I hope you'll give it a try, because I think it's really amazing. Skinny Puppy can have a reputation for being just noisy, angry crap that's really tiresome, but I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I think they are, without question, one of the most brilliant, intelligent, interesting and original bands of all-time. The reason for this is their live act.

When live, Skinny Puppy makes me think of Strindberg's A Dream Play, which proclaims at its beginning that its entire content - characters, etc. - is part of one larger, overarching consciousness. Each component is an element of one larger mind, much like Freud's concept of the nature of the dream. For me, live Skinny Puppy is like that; every sound, every yell, every sample, every beat, every word, every chord, is part of one mind expressing itself in a continuous flow of emotion and thought. It is, musically, probably the most immediate sense of pure expression I have ever heard, along with live New Order. Although the band at the time of this recording consisted of three people (and always has at least two), it seems as though everything is just spewing forth from the lead singer, Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie). It is truly a collage that is being crafted before our eyes, and in the moment. Like New Order, Skinny Puppy reminds me of the action painters; they are, in a sense, action pop musicians, acting out of emotion and impulse (not the same degree as the action painters or jazz musicians or something, of course, but as much as you can within the framework of the songs).

I think that this performance of Assimilate is, in a weird way, very, very beautiful. The sounds of the chords in the chorus are what really do it for me. And there is something truly gorgeous to me about what this song means. Have you ever heard something with a more immediate, sincere intensity? There is something almost unfathomably honest about this song; both in what it expresses and what it evokes. It is violent, and it is about violence and destruction, as most Skinny Puppy songs are. And Ogre clearly isn't too happy about something. But still, this song makes me feel deeply satisfied, and even elated in a kind of unconventional way. The sheer force of the music and vocals electrifies me like Ben Franklin (ZOUNDS!), and leaves me with this deep sense of wonder. How did they make such an incredible song? How does this sound this good? But there's something more to it.

Destruction, anger and violence are part of life. By no means am I a fan of any of them, but I think that one thing Skinny Puppy has taught me is that you have to accept that human beings are imperfect, everyone is capable of cruelty, anger and malevolence, and that life is full of endings. Things are constantly being destroyed, and that is part of the rhythm of life, as things sometimes need to be destroyed before they can be reborn as something better. This is true in society, in art, in families and in individual lives. In dreams, death can symbolize a rebirth, a transformation, a new beginning. And who doesn't die? Life means death, without question. But while bodies can be and are destroyed, the human spirit can live on (either through the soul - if you believe in that sort of thing - or one's legacy, creations, children, etc.). Death can, in fact, be a beautiful thing. And to truly love oneself or another, we all have to accept that human beings are flawed, and that they are not always kind and giving. Every human being on earth has moments where they are selfish, hateful and cruel, but we have to learn to accept and love and forgive ourselves and others, even when we and they have those moments. Otherwise, true love is impossible if we are only capable of loving certain portions of a person's personality. That love is not unconditional, and it is incomplete and immature.

Skinny Puppy, for me, is about embracing that darker side. It is not about championing it or saying it must remain uncontrolled or claiming that side to be superior, but it is about learning to love it, despite itself. And sometimes, it is very healthy and positive to get angry about things that are unjust, as Skinny Puppy is very wont to do. In fact, nearly everything they do is about some political issue, be it animal rights (ViViSect VI) or pollution (Too Dark Park) or what have you.

Here are the lyrics to this little ditty. I really had very little idea of where to put the line breaks, but I went for it:

Oil remove shred tear radiation vapor air
It's the fear so unclear man in motion going nowhere
In our homes stuck in the face spread the dirt to the populace
Yellow journal yellow journal set the pace feel the rage
Manifestations of a sort so insidious off the point
Simple solution never confuse sport a gun kill a cop
Crazy world of weary thought so receive me had enough
Deviation tonic mess prolonged existence in a sense (innocence)
Is he who speaks isn't weak wheelchair virtue to speak
Bubonic plague the truth of AIDS immunity avoid decay
In the trench pestilence the Bible screams announce your faith
Mutterings of death do bring suffocate newborn thing
Degradation of an age venereal it's all sensation
Protect design the moral plan
Agony you're not thinking free clanking chains growing pains
Mutterings of death do bring suffocate newborn thing
Degradation of an age venereal it's all sensation
Protect design the moral plan
Infallible as propaganda completely black with no steps back
Agony profusely stains the inner thinking of the brain
Accusations clanking chains experiments groans of pain
It's all preferred no one blames the terror in an animal's screams
In cages our future
Only death only death
Death death death death death

And good lord, the chorus. What the hell is he talking about? I don't know, but I'll be damned if I don't completely agree with him with that music playing behind him. I'm all like, "Yeah, let's rot and assimilate. Let me just change pants and I'm ready to go." But this song has a life-changing power to it, one that opens up this incredible world of a sort of forbidden and neglected beauty; that of the dark side of the human heart, and somehow accepting that without darkness, light would be meaningless and, in a sense, wouldn't really exist at all. For what would it be if it was a given? I guess the thing is that in the chorus, there is a light that bursts forth and ascends upward with each chord, illuminating spectacularly this world full of decay. And in fact, that light appears right as he is speaking of rotting and assimilating, and being "hot" to annihilate (spicy!). In a sense, isn't life kind of hot to annihilate? I mean, it certainly annihilates enough. But that light appears with the rotting and the assimilation, (perhaps the incorporation of the flesh into the soil and its eventual turn in becoming the soil itself which will sprout crops, etc.), as if to say that there is light in all things, and darkness makes that light all the more special. Why must we fear death? Since it is necessarily part of life, how can it be truly bad? All physical things die; even buildings slowly die and turn to the dust that lines our shelves. And as a beam of light shining through a window reveals that dust in the air, the beauty of the sight is really the beauty of decay. In Assimilate, perhaps Ogre is saying that the evils of society will inevitably die, or that despite them, we don't need to be afraid. Life will go on. I admittedly don't know quite how to tackle all the lyrics right now because it's two in the morning, but perhaps you would like to give it a try. I hope you dig it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire


Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire.mp3

I'm sure all of you will know this one already, and I must say: The Boss truly is on fire with this one. In fact, I think this deserves an NBA Jam-esque "HE'S ON FIRE! BOOMSHAKALAKA!" I really love each song I write about, but this is one where I will go out on a limb and say that it's Special, with a capital S. Recently I've been trying to make pseudo-objective value judgements (I've been reading Lao Tzu too much, I suppose), but, in my opinion, this song is flat-out one of the best ever written. It is so short, so simple and so powerful.

The main way I usually sum up my thoughts on this song is by simply saying that I think this song is maybe the best expression of male tenderness I've ever heard. And when I say that, I mean that it has an extremely masculine quality to it that most pop love songs don't; they usually strike me as more feminine. But in this one, the desire is so understated; everything about the song is understated. It's so warm and hidden, like a tiny nook you used to hide in as a child. He never actually says that he loves or even cares about this woman, but it's incredibly obvious that there is a deep tenderness there. And rather than state that it is making him hurt, he describes it as literally cutting him apart (It's like someone took a knife baby, edgy and dull, and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul). In fact, all he really says about the girl is that she "cools his desire". There's really nothing else there. There's something so male about that; this stubbornness to admit deep feeling, yet finding a way to express it anyway.

But this song takes me to a very real place; it takes me to that nook I mentioned before, and so many times in my childhood. You see, the first album I ever loved was Springsteen's Born In The USA, from which this track is taken. And this song takes me back to being one or two years old like nothing else. I remember the second house I ever lived in, in Willowbrook, Colorado, and the way the living room was kind of dark. Although the stereo was in there, this track makes me think of the family room at the front of the house, all white and bright and sparse. That was the only place I really knew since we moved there when I was like 18 months old. I actually still have memories of the first house, even from when I was under a year old, but the Willowbrook house was the first house I really knew, as it were. Looking back now, it wasn't the greatest house in the world; for some reason, it seems dry to me. What a weird adjective, because I don't mean it literally. Everything seemed dry and unyielding, brittle; like it would resist and then break without giving at all. Everything seemed old, partially because much of my parents' furniture was passed down from their grandparents. I'm On Fire was just too real and too sad for me to like as much then. I think even then I knew what it was about. I have, for my entire life, been a "romantic". I've always wanted to love someone. I've always daydreamed about the perfect girl and being in love.

And while I am still that way, that time seems so distant now, ages 2-6. This song somehow seems to capture those years perfectly; I wanted so much that was just totally beyond my grasp. In many ways, more than anything, I longed for love, and that wounded me so deeply.

I'm just amazed at the mystery of the past, that's all. Listening to this song takes me back to a time I'll never fully remember and never truly understand. I will never grasp the magic of those spaces, nor will I ever have the opportunity to see them again, even as they are now (not to mention what they were like then). So many things in life are transitory, even within the larger arc of those things that last. More and more every day I see the truth in the Tao Te Ching. Time and life just flow steadily, selflessly. They do not love us in the way we think of love. In the greater picture, they give us everything that we need, but they don't treat us with affection. At best, you could say they are practicioners of "tough love". It does nothing to fulfill us, although it always gives us what we need for that fulfillment.

But what is fulfillment? Even when you have what you need, and even what you want, fulfillment escapes us at moments. There are brief blips where we feel empty, despite the fullness of our lives. Sometimes we don't feel like we're in a movie, like there is drama in our feelings and our relationships with others. Sometimes we feel nothing dramatic, and nothing even that important. This can be hard to accept. Sometimes the greatest fulfillment is anything but overwhelming, sometimes it is incomprehensibly and shockingly subtle. Fireworks don't always go off when we finally get what we want, and sometimes the greatest happiness is as silent as dust settling into place, as light pouring through a window, endlessly in silent motion. There are moments when fireworks do go off, when you feel like a key figure in an important scene in a movie, but they are rare. I think this is part of why people enjoy drinking; I think it's part of why I enjoy it sometimes. Things get heightened or dulled, and both feel important, regardless of whether they are.

But again, what is fulfillment? Getting what you want is not fulfillment. I think fulfillment is a state of mind. I choose to desire certain things in my life. I cannot live entirely as Time does, as The Way does, as Lao Tzu proposes. I do in certain senses, but I am a man of desires that I treasure. I am forever bound to my love for affection and, well, love. But what is love (and why do I ask so many rhetorical questions?)? At times, spiritual love, where you let yourself go and just give, is wonderful. That is perhaps the most valuable kind of love, although it is not always appropriate. But learning to do that is necessary to live a fulfilling life. When you can do that, you can truly, truly love. The other kinds, which are desire-based, are perhaps not as noble, but are essential to life and relating to others. For instance, just heaping affection on someone and having them do the same to you is fantastic. Trusting someone to be kind and caring to you is wonderful. In these we expect something from the other, and therefore it is not truly selfless, but there is nothing wrong with that. I believe in feeding the self, too. What we want can be important, too. Sometimes it's just about determining what's REALLY important and what isn't. And sometimes we have to just go for the unimportant things anyway. Life isn't about being noble all the time; it's about being good when it counts.

But being on fire. How can anyone say "I'm on fire" with such calm, such resignation? It's pretty amazing when you think about it. There's almost a contentment, even perhaps a sense of bizarre fulfillment, in the music itself and The Boss' delivery (package delivery for The Boss). It's so tender. It's like he accepts what she's doing, perhaps out of respect for her. Or maybe he's just weak and afraid to go for what he wants. But it would seem that she is cheating on him, or left him (Can he do to you the things that I do?), although the circumstances are somewhat unclear. I like that ambiguity. It's just longing and jealousy, and he ends up howling like a dying wolf, alone in the wilderness at night.

I saw CONTROL last night, the Ian Curtis biopic. I was really disappointed with it, but that's beside the point. Right now, at least, this song is making me think of Ian Curtis. I mean, I guess it's just that I could picture Ian listening to this in Heaven when it came out in 1984 (although I've heard that the 7" release in Heaven was delayed until 1985 due to copyright issues) and relating to it. Just that resignation and sadness. There's no rage here, only saddened desperation that slips into resignation. It's so quiet, and for me, it makes me watch a silent movie of the most distant part of my childhood: infancy. It's like I'm Chevy Chase in the attic in Christmas Vacation, watching the old home movies, without the hilarity. Those times are gone, and they're never coming back. Again, we have a song that for me is all about the past. But even in the song itself, it seems like it's almost not in the present. It's like it's behind a misted glass of some sort, sinking to the depths of the sea. I think of being in the middle of the ocean at night, how lonely everything is. Where is everyone? You feel so far away from everyone and everything, and you literally are, too. But there's a tranquility in that loneliness, and if you can accept your longing, for all its intensity, you can feel a kind of contentment.

I've also been thinking a lot about 8 1/2 recently, which actually feels like a kind of companion piece to this for me, in a weird way. Both are so masculine; they are about being a man, and what it means to face your desires and shortcomings. And of course, women are the key. It's all about women, folks; the mystery of them and the power they have over us. There's something as mysterious and impenetrable (no pun intended) about the beauty of a woman as the magic and of our childhoods, and I think this song captures both (at least for me).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Miko Mission - How Old Are You?


Download Miko Mission - How Old Are You? (12").mp3

Download Miko Mission - How Old Are You? (Edit).mp3

Since March, Italo Disco has steadily become what is most likely my favorite genre of music. Excluding all Euro Disco (which would bring Fancy and Lian Ross' "Fantasy" into our discussion) and focusing solely on Italo, I think the most awe-inspiring individual track would have to be Koto's "Visitors". But Koto is instrumental, and leans more toward a spacey sound. But when it comes to a true vocal pop song, nothing quite touches the majesty, the mystery, of Miko Mission's "How Old Are You?", which I have presented here in two forms: the original 12" mix and a much shorter edit. For the full effect, definitely go for the 12", but if you want it to be as poppy as possible, go for the edit. But please go for both, if you have the time.

One thing Miko Mission is known for is having fairly non-sensical lyrics, and How Old Are You? is no exception. It's not entirely clear what the hell he's talking about if you think about it logically, but if you feel the lyrics and the vocals, I think they actually pack quite a punch, and make quite a lot of emotional sense. I think you can figure out what they mean just by listening to the music. The opening synth line is absolutely incredible; it's so simple and is deceptive in its power. Then he sings:

When the people go
Then my mind is crying
When the children leave
And tearin' the world with thee

And the most beautiful little flourish rises out of nowhere. It feels almost fantastical, like we are being entered into a fantasy world. Do we really need to be logical here? There is an other-worldly feeling surrounding this and all of Miko Mission's songs, and we must accept that. Obviously, in the first verse, he is talking a lot about absence, and he throws in mention of children being amongst the departing group. Lost innocence, perhaps?

When the music plays
In your fantasy
In the moonlight time
I remember the games of my life

Now he starts going wild. Just like I was talking about in my last post about Stockholm Monsters' "Fairy Tales", here we are dealing with the creation of a mental musical soundtrack to a thought - although here the word "fantasy" is more vague, and may not be a memory. Nevertheless, it implies the thinker as a director of sorts, choosing music and creating scenes of a fantasy. And then he refers directly to memory. It may seem strange, but I think that, in the context of the whole song, the final two lines of this verse are some of the most powerful in the history of pop music. In the moonlight time, I remember the games of my life. And they are clearly important, since they echo and then lead into the mind-blowing chorus. But what do they mean? For me, this is where the core of the song lies. This song, for me, is about bravely facing the loss of your past, of your childhood. These games are done. At night, he is remembering them, and you just know that they are powerful. I am immediately taken back to playing baseball with my parents when I was very young, and going on scavenger hunts arranged by my wonderful babysitter, and laughing and joking with my childhood friends. I also think of college, and the carefree fun I had there, watching horror movies and talking about early 90's NFL teams and flirting with girls at parties. Those days are all gone.

I see an emerging trend here, and perhaps a big window into what has been going on in my mind recently (or, one could argue, over the past several years). Pop songs are obsessed with the past, and with remembering it in a certain way. Even the ones that are descriptions of the present are their own artifacts from personal pasts, since the people who made them did so in the past (duh). All art and movies and so forth are about remembering the past and bringing a bit of that past into the reality of the present. We inundate ourselves with the past in order to make our present make sense, and to come to terms with time. Pop songs give us a soundtrack, a framework, with which to look at the present and our past - and even our future. And while I believe that "living in the moment" is extremely important, we are constantly thinking of the past at every instant, for that is all we have ever experienced. It's kind of like field of vision - we can only really focus on like 1% of what we see, and while we see everything else, we don't see it clearly. But the line is blurry between what is in full vision and what is peripheral, just like with the past and the present. Everything, reality at each moment, is constantly becoming the past. Everything is constantly becoming what no longer exists. Everything is constantly ceasing to exist. Yet isn't everything also coming into being? Isn't the world, our vision, our minds, constantly born anew? It is just hard to grasp it sometimes, and to feel it fully. It is hard to be aware of the present, and the past and present are constantly flowing into and out of the other, creating a nexus far too fragile and complex and of such great movement that we may never hope to grasp it.

At the moment where Miko finishes singing "I remember the games of my life", we are struck with the birth of a new moment, a new reality: the start of the chorus. The synth line we know from the beginning still plays, but dominated by an expansion of itself - the beastly hook that dominates what we hear. The past is there, but with a new layer, a new look for itself. And the very first word we hear is "Now". But the brilliant part is that he asks, "Now how old are you?" In the moment we are brought back to the present, we are asked the one question in life that is entirely about the present but also entirely about the entirety of our past, and completely non-contradictorily. Past and present merge into one at exactly this one concise point, and the answer for each person is unique (if they want to get really precise), just as each person's past and present realities are their own and no one else's. Does this make sense? How mind-blowing that question actually is? I hope I've explained it well enough, because for me, it's pretty intense when you think about it in this light. Or maybe I'm still loopy with joy from the Rockies' win tonight. It's also just so powerful because I think that, in the song, it is loaded with concern with the extent to which the person is connected with his/her past, and how far removed they are from it. Doesn't remembering the games of our lives make us feel old? Or maybe they remind us that we can still have those games, that our youth hasn't yet slipped away entirely.

And then ole' Miko continues:

Where is your harbor?
Have many things to do
Open the door

Yes, I live so true
Without my lover
But tell me if the sky is blue
How old are you?

And so, with the second line above, we enter consideration of the future. It's all falling into place. And is the absent lover the song's "you"? I kind of feel like it is, except with the question of "How old are you?" That seems universal to me. There's something triumphant in this song, albeit deeply melancholy at once. It's so mysterious. What is he feeling here? What are we feeling here? It can be wonderful and magical to remember our past, but there is also pain in our knowledge that it is gone. My childhood will never be back, and I can never experience things in the same way as I did then. I will never feel the same wonder over baseball cards as I did then, and I will never be able to believe that Santa Claus is real ever again. But there is joy in those memories, and I can still "live so true" without their reality. I can still play movies of them in my mind. It's interesting too, the line "Tell me if the sky is blue / How old are you?", because it seems to jokingly refer to the empirical reality of the sky being blue, evoking thought of what is truly "real" and factual. It also reminds us of things that are constant in life, such as the color of the sky. Then the final new verse comes:

Memories of dreams
Something out of date
I saw the light of ray
But remember the days of my life

How beautiful is that? And again we have memories of the past, but not the past we think of as typical reality, but of dreams. Something out of date, reflections of other mental states. Aren't dreams such totally unique mental states? We know that, at each moment we dream, our minds are in a precise state which they have never been in before and will never be in again. But aren't dreams also "out of date" in that they are timeless? Dreams can provide insight and information, but aren't they still ultimately a mystery? Are memories of dreams real memories? Are they memories of reality? How are we defining reality? Is it only empirical, or not? As I discussed in the last post, empirical reality, time, is often cold and indifferent, or at least it feels that way. It's the way we react to it and understand it, both consciously and unconsciously, that makes reality, reality. How can we possibly comprehend reality outside of our own personal reality, our own frame of reference? Aren't dreams part of our own personal realities; indeed, sometimes the most intimate part of them?

How Old Are You? is about how we feel about our past, our present, and our future. It is about how we encounter reality, and our passage through it and through time, how the past can become the present and the present the past, how a memory can be very real. It invites us to explore what we remember, what we have lost, and what we still have. No matter what, we will always have our memories, our dreams, ourselves - in all our unfathomable mystery.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Prett-aay, prett-aaay, prett-ay good!

Stockholm Monsters - Fairy Tales


Download Stockholm Monsters - Fairy Tales.mp3

I have been hearing about Stockholm Monsters for years, but first listened to them only recently. In fact, I first heard Fairy Tales the day before Tony Wilson died, which is an interesting irony. This was one of the first songs the band wrote (as teenagers!), and in late 1980, they struck gold while playing at Rafters in Manchester. Peter Hook and Rob Gretton happened to be in the audience. When they played this little ditty, the two were incredibly impressed, and pushed for their inclusion on Factory Records. Hooky became the band's manager and produced nearly everything they ever recorded - except, of course, for Fairy Tales, which was produced by the Friendliest Man in Manchester, Martin Hannett. No wonder those drums sound so crisp and piercing.

But enough of that. What a beautiful song, right? I think I'll always associate it with Tony's death, and that seems fitting, since I imagine it was one of his favorite songs since the Monsters were supposedly his favorite Factory act of the early 80s.

Off to a bang with a false start. Let me try again. This song has no false starts, although the drum machines sound quite hesitant at the beginning, like a nervous bird. But its flow is strong and pure, simple and wondrous, like the flow of a brisk stream. It has this feeling of resignation, of moving forward although you're resigned to your loss. Like a death. It makes me look back at what I've lost, but also at what I have gained from it. It's like gleeful sadness. It keeps on going. I've been really interested recently in how time flows, how it just keeps going, no matter what, and I think this song embodies that feeling somehow. How can it be so indifferent? We tend to anthropomorphize things, even abstract things like time. I think there is a method to the madness of life, but dammit if time can't be frustratingly indifferent sometimes. Children grow old, friends change, people die, and nothing stops to let you rest. You don't get a chance to grieve. "Why do you speak when there's nothing to say?" What is there to say, really? Life almost always seems to present even monumental events as mere moments like any other; it makes no judgment as to their importance. Only we can decide what is meaningful, and what is poetic. Only we can decide what is cinematic. Isn't that what it is? Cinema? Aren't movies usually just about turning those indifferent occurrences into personally historic events? Don't we sometimes look at our lives like they were movies just to make them make sense for once?

I know I do. It's kind of like some weird form of anthropomorphism, but for cinema. We characterize moments as celluloid, as light. The mental and emotional transformation of events into light. But what are events? Are they tangible? Perhaps they should be called scenes: the transmutation of life into scenes, the editing. Isn't history a lot like editing a film? Except with a film things are usually filmed with the intent of making them into an important moment, one worthy of the film. Isn't it amazing that moments can feel more full, more present, when we think of them as though they were just light playing in the theater of our minds, with an added soundtrack of our choosing? Maybe we live as documenters, our camera-eye filming everything (the afterimages the imprints on the celluloid), and then in moments of rest we edit. We pick and choose and sometimes forget (the overexposed strip of film) and set out to creating our own histories, the documentaries of our lives to recount to others and convince ourselves of our importance as subjects.

But it can be so easy to feel alienated from yourself, as one can from the director. We never see ourselves work; we are at the heart of the story but we are never seen. We feel our convictions; This must go in, when we love or grieve or feel profound joy. Those scenes must be saved. They remain real when they are on the reel (zing!). But where are we in those scenes? It seems that all we remember is what we see (the camera) and what we feel (the purpose behind a scene, the reason for the narrative). But life always goes on; it is always dissolving into light as our mind's editor works and works.

But also, if one feels that there is a moral and ethical obligation inherent in the act of filmmaking (and architecture, of course, since both are seen and felt by so many), is there also one intrinsic to the act of "editing" one's own life? What is the purpose of each "scene"? What can we gain from its inclusion? What can its retelling offer another human being? Even if time presents us our lives with a confusing indifference, we must decide what really matters, and that is a moral choice, a judgment. Don't these things really define who we are? And I think that sometimes what we choose for ourselves without conscious intention can reveal a lot of meaning, too. Sometimes I think we even have to sift through our memories to decide what is important, too. So many Contra.

Fairy Tales (yes, despite my bizarre tangent, this is still about the song) is our ticket to the screening room. When we hear it, we watch our lives unfold and we see what we have gained and what we have lost, with a strange sense of detachment from it all, like we are helpless; we are the viewer of our own lives. It reminds us of what our infinite limitations in capturing what we desire and controlling what we experience, but also of our ability to retain its memory, to retain its magical light and play it over and over again, should we so choose. It reminds us of the injustice of time but gives us the chance to right those perceived wrongs with the power of memory. We can make those moments which time forgot last forever and feel like the most important events that have ever occurred, because we are the ones who experience our own lives.

How did people think before movies? I am endlessly fascinated with that question, and with the countless ways in which film simultaneously reflects and shapes our minds. I wish there was some way to accurately depict the way memories look.

Some songs make us think about the future and some make us feel the joy of the present, but Fairy Tales makes us feel the fragile beauty of our past. Enjoy.