Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I'm Sorry It Didn't Work Out Between Us

Inspired by the lack of inspiring activities in my life and an NPR "All Songs Considered" podcast I listened to on my afternoon run (in the SUN, no less!!!  The sun.  O, the sun.) I visit my neglected public musings venue.

The podcast focused on breakups.  The breakups we have with favorite bands who, for various reasons, have disappointed us, let us down, changed or even stayed exactly the same while we changed.  The first song played was from U2's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, "Stuck in the Middle," the album that caused the hosts, along with many folks who responded to their original blog post, to call it quits.  I actually really liked that record and stuck with them through the Elevation tour.  Didn't go, but would have had I the opportunity.  ("Opportunity" did not include breaking down and paying what I considered too much money to sit in shite nosebleed seats at Key Arena.  "Opportunity" would have meant being given a ticket. I have limits, even for bands I love.)  It was the next record, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that I couldn't get behind.  Even though I bought it.  Did I even listen to it the whole way through?  Maybe once.  Maybe.  And, fine, I admit it, I even bought their last album and am pretty certain that I have yet to listen to it.  I wanted it to be good and I knew, instinctively, that it wasn't.  I've had a long, steady and what I thought to be true, relationship with U2 since I was a wee thing trying to record "With or Without You" on a barely held together tape player at 2 am, because the DJ had been promising for hours that the song was coming up, soon.  Ok, and maybe I had a mild case of insomnia back then and it wasn't really hours, but I distinctly recall keeping my fingers over the "play" and "record" buttons in tense readiness so that I could hit them that crucial second before the song started.  (I would be lying if I said I'd been with them since Boy--I was only 13, tops, when "With or Without You" was on the radio and just coming into my own, musically.)

Well, it's time I came clean: U2 and I have broken up.  Truthfully, we haven't been getting along together for several years now, and I have to say it was inevitable.  I can still listen, with great fondness and enthusiasm, to their catalog up to a point--the one that includes I Do Not Want...  I think that's completely likable, though certainly no culmination of years of honing talents of Joshua Tree or the freshness and driving energy of Boy, but it beats the pants off of all that has followed.  By comparison, it's brilliant.  Though a dull brilliance, I guess.

Along with U2, among others I agreed with, Sting was mentioned on the podcast, and I had to silently acknowledge that it was over between us, as well.  I mean, I still like the first three solo albums (don't I?) but, geez louise, he got to be sooooo... soooo... adult contemporary.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I have recently listened to Dream of the Blue Turtles--I bought the LP when I saw it at the Goodwill, last year--and "Do the Russians Love their Children, Too" takes me right back to the mysterious world of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the Cold War and fear of atomic annihilation.  Ah, memories... But no way do I want to listen to him play a lute and sing jazzy madrigal chants.  (I don't really know what he's doing nowadays, but somehow this is the picture of  him, musically, that I have.) But if he walked into my yoga studio to take class, or even guest teach, I'd faint dead away.  I broke up with musician, not the man.

Death Cab for Cutie and I just drifted apart, I guess.  I still fondly recall the good times we had, and retain a mild curiosity about their goings on, but I'm not excited about the new record and have no compulsion to buy it.  This is what probably happens more often than not, the drifting apart.  Going our separate ways; sometimes it's because I simply cannot keep up.  Music is, for me, similar to books.  There is so much out there and so much to catch up on that doesn't even include all of the new stuff being produced.  Besides being unaffordable to stay current while also embracing the past, there aren't enough hours in a day to listen to everything.  And the older I get the more genres I encounter that I'd been closed to as a willful, narrowly focused (I don't want to say narrow minded, because I don't think that's fair.  I was a kid, for cryin' out loud.) teenager that I want and need to explore.  Unlike books, which can be borrowed for free from the library and then returned once consumed, I want to posses the music I discover and like.  (Yes, music can be borrowed from the library but technically it should be returned without transfer of ownership... if you catch my meaning.)  The financial aspect of music consumption is insurmountable and so must be more carefully considered--something that can freeze the decision making process.

Wow, life is rough, huh?

Other aspects of the band breakup that can be discussed at a later date were the This Artist Can Do No Wrong Even When They Do, What Was I Thinking/I Can't Believe We Ever Dated, It Ended Too Soon, I Wish You Were My Boyfriend, I'm Willing To Give it Another Chance.

I didn't really give this a ton of thought, didn't go through my CDs, records or iTunes to really look at who I don't listen to anymore or who I really, really need to have move out.  I, sadly or no, clicked so much with what the NPR hosts were listing--holy cow, I feel the same way about so and so!  I just fixated on those bands.

Some things to think about for next time...