Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Darkness of Sunlight


A message I wrote to someone last night prompted me to listen to Slowdive.  Hadn't given them a listen in quite a while.  Not sure why I've let them go neglected the past few years.  Just for a Day is one of the prettiest albums of the early 90s.  It shimmers.  It soothes.  It straps a parachute onto your shoulders and slows you way, way down.  Perhaps the most potent downer of the non-pharmacological variety you can take.

I spent the whole day listening to it on an endless loop. While trudging through the rain to pick up lunch, I reflected on how perfectly suited that album is for a day like that.  Overcast.  Drizzly.  Cold.
Don't you know
I've left and gone away
You're knocking on the door I closed today
And everything looks brighter
Waves at play just soothe my pain away

"Waves"


And it's also particularly well-suited for my somber mood.

On my last day in L.A., I joked with my cousin about how the sun was really starting to get to me.  Every day seemed the same.  That relenting sun just wouldn't leave you alone.  So I got to thinking: had I grown up in Southern California, would I have discovered, let alone appreciated, Slowdive?  I think you need some clouds overhead, a chill in the air and some grime on the streets to connect fully with Slowdive.  And maybe that's why L.A. has little gravitational pull in the indie rock universe.  The scene emanates, instead, from places like NYC, the U.K. and Sweden -- places where people understand gloom.

[Update: Someone from L.A. took issue with my assessment, which is understandable.  I'm not suggesting that L.A. is incapable of exporting good music.  I'm just skeptical of its ability to inspire melancholy.  Could you imagine Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Interpol or Arcade Fire calling L.A. home?  I think that's part of the reason I've lost respect for Morrissey, now that he's an L.A. resident.  You can't preach miserablism from paradise.  You just can't.]

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