Emotions, specifically those related to love and other gross feelings, are not my strong suit. I do not excel at words in those instances and I do not win at letting those around me know they’re importance in my life.
As a subsitute, I do this with music. And if we think about it, the differences between love and music, as emotions and things even, are so fine that they are almost invisible. It’s true that most definitions of love and it’s associated feelings revolve around people and tangible things, things you can touch and feel and move to the other side of the table if you wish, but really, they are one and the same in my life.
Amazingly, this has not been the hindrance most people would assume that it would be. I have lovely friends who understand that my sarcasm denotes my hopes that they will always be here and that I will do the same for them. Inside a relationship, this “works” as well. It’s something I strive to be better at, to be more appropriate with, but it’s certainly not something I ever would have listed off as a personality flaw, this inability of mine to be loving.
If we’re going to get specific, love is defined as “a strong positive emotion of regard and affection; any object of warm affection or devotion”. Music is not defined as the same but the two nouns fit nicely together and in their purest form, seem synonymous to me. And the only difference I can see here between these two beautiful things is that I’ve never picked up the ability to shit on good music the way I have on good love. The kicker here is that music will not do the bad to you that love can.
It’s supposed to be pure, this thing called love, and it’s not supposed to break your heart. It is expected to stand by your side and it is expected to stick around when things are tough and tired and just hard. It is defined as something that will hold you up when you want to fall, something that will give you meaning when you see none, an emotion that is so strong it cannot really be defined. But all that has always seemed like such bullshit to me.
It’s the most pessimistic of views, perhaps. But I’ve always had a substitute that was more than sufficient. Jams. Tunes. Vibes and feelings brought to my heart in neat little packages by writers and singers and those who are willing to lay it out there. I don’t need love, I’m not the one writing this shit. I don’t need a life partner for Megafaun works just fine in filling that void, if you can call it that. I don’t need to go out to dinner, I don’t need to buy dresses and cute heels and eyeshadow, because Cotton Jones will care for me even if I don’t. It’s amazing to me that something so simple and easily accessible is such a wonderfully perfect surrogate for something as deep and occasionally distant from all of us. The absorbing and poignant feeling I have for records and melodies dominates my life. I am beyond happy with this arrangement.
Scratch that. I was, I suppose. It’s not that music has now taken a backseat but brace yourself, for what I am about to clue you in on is potentially barf-inducing. GET READY FOR IT.
I’m in love.
Now let’s all collectively gather ’round a toilet and bond over our disgust with my current state of emotions. Meet me at a bathroom in St. Louis?
This is new ground, something I am not accustomed to. Something my brain and heart are adapting to well, yes, but this territory is unexplored and though I feel it should require a map, it has not. I get love, I do. I DROVE 2000 MILES FOR GAYNGS, BITCHES. Do not tell me I don’t get love. And because this is new, I suppose that my body has taken to comparing this unordinary love to music. I am coping with it by likening it to a new Bon Iver record — it might take a while getting used to but stick around AND THAT SHIT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
This love is unexplainable. Perhaps it’s that I have known this man a large majority of my life. Perhaps it’s that for that long time he has sat on a pedastal that is but 2 feet below the one my father resides on. He is a piece of my past, someone who was there before my life fell apart and before I was able to put it all back together, piece by fucked up piece. He was the friend by a bonfire in the sticks when I was 17, he was the man who I let drive my classic 3-speed-on-the-tree pickup truck, he was my first taste of love. Perhaps it is that he is simply wonderful — just and fair, sweet and kind, the best kind of people. And what I’m feeling now will undoubtedly influence me and my writing so I feel it only fair to mention.
To prove that I have not abandoned my love of tunage and replaced it with hand-holding and viewings of The Notebook, a (not so) tiny mix. Songs that I’ve been listening to and feeling real fucking hard lately. While I am starting to doubt that maybe love is always something that simply comes and goes as it pleases, leaving distress and broken hearts in it’s wake, I am still keenly aware that if this shall ever end, if the happiness and feeling of comfortability and just sheer love dissappears, there will still be music. These songs will still be here. Always. Coping mechanisms, they are.
Active Child :: When Your Love Is Safe [MP3]
Pat Grossi (Sir Active Child, ahem) says of this song: “The chorus reflects ironically and sadly on how when I have a great love and its locked up safe, for whatever reason, I’ll run away, give it away, literally drive away to another state. Quite cowardly now that I think about it.”. Kindred spirits we are, brother.
Merle Haggard :: Today I Started Loving You Again [MP3]
One of the things about loving a country fella, is that one must learn to appreciate the nuances of men like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. I have no choice in this matter if I’m to kitchen dance properly. This is how I know I’m in love: I actually WANT to attempt to kitchen dance properly to music I don’t quite understand. Baby steps, ya’ll.
Megafaun :: Worried Mind (Live) [MP3]
Everything about this song says love. ‘Worried Mind’ and I have been dating since early 2010, actually. I will wound my relationships with my own neurotic mind but this time I will lay that urge down. ‘Worried Mind’ exemplifies what my love looks like.
Panda Bear :: You Can Count On Me [MP3]
No, seriously. You can count on me.
Townes Van Zandt :: Be Here To Love Me [MP3]
Why hello, mixture of hippy and country! You look just like my love!
Port St Willow :: Even [MP3]
It’s not so much the words of this jam that get me (though “you built this cage, quit pacing around” hits real fucking close to home) but the feeling. I sense love in there.
Romany Rye :: Dear Holly (Daytrotter Session) [MP3]
Required love letter inclusion.
GAYNGS :: By Your Side (Sade cover :: Daytrotter Session) [MP3]
I’ve always viewed love as cheesy. I’ve always viewed Sade as cheesy. Clearly I was wrong on both counts.
The Acorn :: Misplaced [MP3]
I fell in love with The Acorn/’Misplaced’ long before I fell in love and shit howdy, if this isn’t a lesson in how the meaning of a song can change for you along with your emotions.
Akron/Family :: Set ‘Em Free Pt. I [MP3]
Perhaps the reason that love is so odd to me is that I view it so differently in the first place. It’s not about holding tight, it’s not about suffocation and the blending of lives so that two literally appear as one. It’s not about possession or the taming of another. It’s about being free and allowing the one you love to be the same. It’s about being wild, together. In other news, I set a singular New Year’s resolution this year: to live by this song. For realz.
Bon Iver :: Bruised Orange (John Prine cover) [STREAM]
And my head shouted down to my heart, better look out below.
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr :: Nothing But Love (from Daytrotter Session) [MP3]
I imagine the day that I attempt to introduce Country Man to a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr will be fucking epic.
Deer Tick :: Twenty Miles [MP3]
A Folk Hive repeat. While driving through the country recently this song suddenly mattered more and I knew. It is likely that I have never sang lyrics as hard as I sing If you’re running away I’m looking for you and if you lost your way I’m seeing you through.
Wynn Walent :: If You Fall I Fall Too [STREAM]
It was this song and the prior that really brought this new love home for me. It’s meaning really has little to do with romantic love but it just goes to show that everyone finds their own in songs, regardless of the writer’s intentions. If he falls, I fall. He fell, I fell. I have seen you look down, I’ve carried that feeling. I know it’s not light. The things that befell you have nothing to tell you of the good things that may come to you. I hit play and I have no choice but to turn it up and compare it to my life. There is such intense meaning in there. I have no doubt that forever, I will consider this one of the jams that clinched this love for me.