Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our Songs

after Joe Brainard

For a long time now I've been trying to write about our songs. But I can't. But I'm going to try again.

I lived for our songs my whole life. And I loved them more than dearly. These songs were written in the 20th Century mostly, & the early 21st. The songs that made you feel that everything was not enough. That saturated life with an airbrush of jewelry & infinite sexual feeling. That kept you up all night. That were more, in their sound, like the night than night itself. That were better than fucking. That made you want to die in their arms every morning. I loved & admired them too much.

I heard our songs long before I ever knew their names. Through my brother, & my mom & my dad. They said our songs were great so I believed them.

The first of our songs I ever loved was "Sir Duke." I heard it through the walls in the house. It made them seem watery. Thin, like skin deep. And I remember falling in love.

We lived together in a blue & white place. I had a bedroom with a window overlooking a streetlight, a basketball hoop, & some cars. Your average little villa suburbana. My family liked to listen to music so logically as I did as well. All I thought of were the records. The way they made me feel. Playing our songs was mainly dreaming.

Our songs were meant to be endlessly repeated. They made you want to dance a lot. They made you want to sing a lot. They made you want to tear the whole goddamn thing apart. I think that almost everything our songs made you want to do they made you want to do it a lot.

Our songs made us go to extremes. Or perhaps they just found us there.

Our songs were made of ragged gloss, immaculately done, & full of candy. They were like abandoning cessation. Young forever. Always new. The purest stuff. Dark & absorbing & bright with luscious changes & effects.

Our songs were like a movie of Romeo and Juliet made in a commune by the sentient effluvia of nothing, mainly gold, & demanding you tell them you loved them.

Our songs were always early.

Our songs would make you hate them one day & then the next feel compelled to defend them with your life.

If you liked songs one time that absolutely didn't mean that you would have to like them the next. Our songs were very intelligent. Thus liking them or disliking them was purely emotional. Depending on how you happened to feel at the moment. This could be infuriating. But it was terrific too. I mean, likes & dislikes are really pretty boring anyway. Once you have them.

Our songs had beautiful voices. There were so many tones. Fast. Defiant. Obsequious. (Melodic) to the point. (Shameless) often garish. Elegant. Both too much of this world, & not of it at all. (Poetry).

Our songs were not something you wanted to argue about unless you were very good at denying the ecstatic its station.

Our songs were data pastries capable of setting steam & snowflakes on fire. I know that they knew they were. So they were. Our songs had a way of enveloping a room.

It's weird, now, to think of our songs as being short. But I think they were. Not short, really, but brief. They were three or four minutes. Mainly about longing. Or fulfillment. Or about the impossible.  Or sex. It seemed strange that our songs could support all that feeling, & exceed it in the end, like new life.

Our songs were more capacious than the human conceptions of god. (Cloudless & starry) their furnished mansions. And their sweet, dependable claim on our souls. Their empty vessels. Our moist eyes. And our glowing red complexions. Red partly (I think) from having come so hard from listening. And partly (I think) from confusion at how involuntary all that coming seemed. Or partly seemed.

Our songs were like an aspic suzerain of dreams come true, & if they'd had a ring I would have kissed it to deepen the chintz of life's arresting costume jewels. They were their own bright orange moon guarding midnight & thought from the marital indignities of work. I worshiped them because they were the serpent & the lamb. Because in being that they taught you how to love.

Our songs didn't cost very much. They excelled at kismet. Partly because we'd been wishing for them. Partly because they were our wishes. Our songs were generous.

Our songs never took back the things that they gave us, & if we were loyal, they gave more & more so that after their potential was exhausted they replenished themselves with miraculous efficiency. Our songs were generous.

Our songs could be excessive. More than excessive. Sometimes, when we were drunk, they could be downright overwhelming. But they were worth it. Some songs could get by with a lot. I was all for it. If you were able get away with it. Our songs could get away with it. & did.

Our songs were our confidants. They were invincible. Or so it seemed when crying on their shoulder. Mostly they were cartoons. Our songs would do the drawing first & then we'd fill the balloons. Instantly. On the spot. It was all very 'us.'

Our songs were somehow very vulnerable. At the same time there was an air of confidence & superiority about them. This combination was electric. 

Our songs loved our money. Electronics. Heartsick lovers. The formulaic. World cities. Summertime. Noise. Generalities. (Etc.)

Our songs could barely demonstrate euphoria without making good on the promise of its end.

Our songs made privations of happiness a flesh wound, & this was how they showed us what we'd lost. Frail & light. With a long kiss & insidious demeanor. Always thrust forward. Eyes closed. A dumstruck look. Casual. Confident. "I know you are listening."

Our songs were an ocean of Grolsch & Campari. On cold winter nights we swam in it, naked, & warm, so as to not be scared to death.

I remember our songs were always coming back to life. I tried to write a poem somehow especially for them (especially good) & it turned out awful. 

Now I want to stop this 'our songs' stuff & tell you what the songs really mean to me. Now. Personally.

I wrote in a diary long ago that "If I were to have a deity it would be our songs." I do. & it's them. Because our songs really were life. Which, as you know, was no so pretty. Hurt in that way. It's very time consuming. Often my feelings' material was lost in the search for magnanimous expression. But when our songs got angry at the world they lost their tempter. When our songs were unhappy they cried. If our songs loved you, you knew it. Our songs had a natural gift (I assume it was natural) of being able to be themselves, whatever that might mean...Our songs showed their feelings. Our songs needed people & they needed for people to need them. (Who doesn't?). But our songs let it be known. Our songs admitted to being human. Perhaps (I hope) they were even proud of it.

The most important thing I am still learning from our songs is just do whatever you want to do & don't worry too much about it.

Our songs had the most infuriating way of making everything sound so simple.

Thinking about our songs makes me think of myself, or what if felt like to have on in that old fashioned way. I am thinking of the people I loved. How I failed them, never telling them I needed them so badly. How greedy it was, to be blase. I am thinking how our songs were just the oppositve. They demanded a lot of people. Emotionally. & in other ways too. I am thinking, perhaps, that our songs were just these sequin-studded mental water features, electrified by avaricious world spirit feeling in excelsior they grew multi-cellular & sentient, then diffused themselves as a live stream of rebel natalities enjoined to the emergence of restive public world before things like that were eclipsed altogether.


-Dana Ward