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Wednesday, November 03, 2004
You know how when someone breaks your heart you listen to the radio and all those horrible love song all of a sudden seem really poignant and true? Well, I was listening to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and somehow it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Sure, it's the music in part, that soothing guitar part and the sway-back-and-forth melody, but the chorus, that embarassingly bad chorus, was kind of touching--"just like every night has its dawn" etc. And then "Time After Time," too--"sometimes you picture me/I'm walking too far ahead / you're calling to me, I can't hear / what you've said / Then you say--go slow / I fall behind--" God, it's stupid, and I'm not even addresing the fact that the "every cowboy sings a sad, sad song" line also rings true in a weird way in my current state (although, you know, there is a certain poignancy to it in the current context), but it's lovely. I think I might just run through my 2-disc collection of power ballads. I don't even know why I'm in the mood for it.

Also working: Graham Coxon's "Bittersweet Bundle of Misery," which begins: "Now the end is in sight, I'm just tired / Lying awake at night so wired / And fired..." plus, for reasons I really don't understand, "Wichita Lineman." They're working better than Lightning Bolt, which I listened to on the commute this morning, and they're DEFINITELY working better than Radiohead's "Idioteque" which came on in the bar last night around 1 when the bad results were piling up: "Ice age comin, ice age comin, let me hear both sides...this is really happening..." Jesus Thom.

Eesh, and now Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind of Wonderful" is working. And I'm quoting bad pop song lyrics like they're meaningful, as if I'm a ninth-grade short-story writer or something! Damnit! Oh well. At least "First We Take Manhattan" is on, but I'm not sure how much Cohen I should be listening to...

...although "Manhattan" is really interesting to hear right now, and it sounds just so good, that particular sense of messianic, quasi-militaristic-but-not-really, righteous determination Cohen's displaying. Where the hell does that song come from, anyway? Sure not the same place that "Marianne" comes from, which doesn't seem often addressed. Is it because he defuses the whole thing later with the lines about "fashion business" and "monkey and the plywood violin" (although I love the violin image) which seem to lighten the mood from the beginning of the song, which posited a kind of Mandela-esque situation of a political dissident oppressed by a totalitarian government ("you see that line that's moving through the station"), so it's seemingly now suddenly a more harmless social critique? I guess the word "boredom" is there right at the beginning, but still, there's simply no denying the power of the shift of "I'm coming, I'm coming now to rewaaaaaard them" into "First we take Manhattan..." And then, of course, there's the omens and portents in the second verse, kind of explicitly Biblical (no surprise from Cohen, I guess). But then there's that little bridge break and we have a whole different tone. It's more of an evil-villain thing. Is it a critique of the beginning or simply another side of it? I dunno.

So what am I saying? I'm saying that these fantasies persist, and they're maybe useful. Imaginary armies are as powerful as real ones sometimes. But a lot of the time, they're not. What's appealing right now is both the reassuringly righteous, destined-for-victory tone of the first part of the song and the ambiguity of the second half, which asserts no victory, and which admits the way such a stance poisons everything you do. Again, I just want to say "I dunno" but that doesn't help.