quinn esq's picture

    When Your Losses Start To Mount.

    Been a hard week.

     One of the hardest.

    Times like these, more often now I turn to music that... sounds the way music used to. I know, I'm basically cashing in my chips as an independent, thinking person by hitting the nostalgia button... but there it is. Facts on the ground.

    I been wondering why. After all, I was someone who "kept up" on music, through the 70's, 80's, 90's, the 00's. But then... something turned a bit. Well, not "something," actually. More like "me." I turned a bit. A bit... nostalgic. Which was a thing I'd always hated. Nostalgia. Fought it.

    But lately, I've started to wonder. Question. Doubt myself. (Easy there, tiger....) Wondering if maybe a bit of "nostalgia" isn't the worst thing. Maybe it's just another of the long list of things I originally mocked and fought and then later came to love. Like... big cities. Frozen yogurt. Girls.

    Anyway, it's all started me thinking about where nostalgia comes from. I could probably read some smart books about nostalgia that'd tell me some really clever things, but frankly, these days I just prefer to make up my own ideas.

    So my theory is that, as we grow older, our losses start to mount. That simple. The Reaper gets our address and starts showing up in the hood. And after that, with each long, slow, sweep of his scythe, he takes away the houses we grew up in, the first car we drove all night, the dogs we wrestled with and then... he takes away the people we love.

    And much of the time, there's not much we can do about it.

    Ok, none of the time. When a person dies, none of the time is there anything we can do about it. They're dead. And... gone. 


    There goes the tree you loved. The band you worshipped. The place you always got breakfast.

    Hell, there goes your favourite body part.

    So I've started to think maybe - on this one front - I need to cut people a bit more slack. Myself included. Maybe it's ok if people want to hang onto a bit of music from the past. And some of the memories and the people it carries and conjures. 

    And no, this doesn't mean that it's ok to only listen to older stuff. Sorry, I'm not coming on here to defend 24 hours a day of Lynyrd Skynyrd. 24/3 is quite sufficient.

    Besides, there's new stuff that often hearkens back, includes and recreates old sounds. Sure, some of it is faked up, forced shit that makes you want to beat the band members to death. But some of it has that same warmth, or joy, or rage and tears, that the originals had.

    And hearing them, I like that their differences conjure up feelings and moods in me that float freer of the increasingly hard-wired memories, faces, events and associations that I often have with the older songs themselves.

    Here's a few that have conjured for me lately.

    1. Gayngs, "The Gaudy Side of Town." (2010.) A gorgeous tribute to 10cc, who found a gift groove from the Gods in the mid-70's with "I'm Not In Love." The whole Gayngs album was recorded at 69 bpm in tribute to 10cc, but "Gaudy" did something more than imitate. It refound that long lost groove. And I think you'll find that your next few dozen listens to this will take you off, not just to memories of the mid-70's, but into a warmer, and wider, dreamland. Give it a couple of minutes to warm up. And yes, 10cc always was hip, as a matter of fact.

    2. Free Energy, "Free Energy. (2010.) If you ever liked The Cars or Cheap Trick or Tom Petty, well, here's... not quite the Cars. From Red Wing, Minnesota, I figure these kids have to be related to Dick. I mean, how else could you fit in this much cowbell? (Ok, granted, if James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem was your producer, that might do it. But my money's on the Dick linkage.) Admit it, you wish you were in this band.

    3. The Parlor Mob, "You Can't Keep No Good Boy Down." (2008.) Ok, a band from New Jersey doing Led Zeppelin doesn't sound a great idea. With a lead singer that looks like Pauly Shore? Holy shit.

    Ok. I should shut up and give these guys a chance to redeem themselves. IMO, they do.  

    4. One eskimO, "Kandi." (2009.) From LisB, this is the kinda thing that goes onto my "play all night" list. Some of you might know Patsy Cline's "He Called Me Baby" from 1963, others Candi Staton's more R&B version from 1971. Well, take those two, pop them up into the 3rd dimension, and that's what you get from the Londoners of One eskimO. Thanks LisB!

    5. Del Amitri, "Be My Downfall-Drowned On Dry Land." (2009.) And sometimes, the past is best conjured by those who... lived it. Those who had genius, and fought, but were defeated. Who rose, and gathered their gifts, rallied their friends, took their hard-won lessons, returned to the field, and fell again.

    It happens.

    And sometimes... that's all she wrote.

    In Justin Currie of Del Amitri (a Scot - I know, you're surprised), that's what I see. There's a story that - 30 years ago on British TV - he was on a show with songwriters like Richard Thompson, and after Currie played a song he'd thrown away and never even bothered recording - the others volunteered to stop singing, if only he'd go on playing. I just watched a video of the same thing happening in 2010, Currie singing and Chris Difford - the great songwriter for Squeeze who did "Tempted" - breaks down in tears listening from his stool, and thanks him for his songs. 

    He's apparently a bit of a drinker, Currie, and has a rep as a hard man to play with. But Del Amitri - who rank, for me, as one of the great pop bands of all-time - are so little known that I can't blame him. When he plays these days - as in this final video - you can see he can't stand to bare his soul on stage anymore, and has to paste up a cynical face. Acid, almost.

    But if you want the taste of real bittersweet, songs that tap loss from the well, not the bottle, from the people who didn't bring you Cheers... you need Justin Currie. Here in Aberdeen, doing Be My Downfall & Drowned On Dry Land.

    It's music you'd swear was nostalgia, but it isn't from your youth.

    It's from your loss. 

    And yes, the audience knows he's dropping two verses from the end of the song, verses he can't sing anymore:

    Yeah, you can try to take it, try to hide it, or try to fake it. 

    Yeah, you can try to make a stand. 

    But some day they will find you shaking, holding up your hands, 

    saying, "Someone take me back,

    to some way I’ll live and that,

    I understand." 

    I understand....


    When your will to live is choking,

    when your spirit has been broken, 

    when the whole damn thing seems token

    and mundane. 

    When the blackness all around you crowds you out and hounds you, 

    picks you up and crowns you

    "King of the Lame". 


    Well let me start with the Ganygs!

    I like this. Echo and Jazz? and an attempt at a new sound.

    I cannot take rap or hip hop....

    It is like Marvin Gaye met .....?

    I'll be back tomorrow.

    Unlike Salon, I can be back tomorrow! ha

    You're right Dick, it's got a lot of that Marvin Gaye "What's Going On" kinda groove. I love the Gayngs song, but pretty tough to match Marvin! 

    I heard someplace that it's hard to be nostalgic when you can't remember anything...somehow the music stays with you when nothing else does.

    I heard someplace that it's hard to be nostalgic when you can't remember anything.

    Good one! I like that.  My dad would say in his later years that he had CRS Syndrome.  (as in, "can't remember s***).  Short memories can be good for athletes and other humans who fail or come up short but need to keep on keeping on. Perhaps they are helpful where the pain of an experience is so searing that life becomes almost unbearable...until, over time, we begin to forget.  Or at least dwell less and less.

    Or as Emily said:


    There is a pain—so utter—
    It swallows substance up—
    Then covers the Abyss with Trance—
    So Memory can step
    Around—across—upon it—
    As one within a Swoon—
    Goes safely—where an open eye—
    Would drop Him—Bone by Bone. 


    Takes my breath away, that Dickenson girl.

    Can you be nostalgic for the time when you had a good memory?

    You're good, quinn.  I like that. 

    Although: if the nostalgia requires some belief that having a good memory would be better than not, and one can't remember whether it was better to have good memory or bad, could one still really be nostalgic for such a time?

    If feeling nostalgic requires no cognitive belief, then I suppose it doesn't matter, and the answer would seem to be, yes, one can be nostalgic for the time when one had a good memory.

    And: WWATSOT? (What would AT say on this?)  I have a feeling it would be something that, if he is so inclined, would produce a smile.  At least.

    I'm sorry about your bad week.  Hope this one goes a whole lot better.

    I'd say it's equally hard to be nostalgic when you remember everything. Luckily, I fall in that sweet spot. I remember mainly the happy stuff.

    I believe you owe me for that Kandi, mister.

    But that's okay, cuz I luv you like a brother and you got me feeling all warm and fuzzy and....nostalgic....tonight.



    Double hat tip from me Lis.  That one made it onto my "most played" list almost immediately after you brought it to or attention.  :)

    Hey, great to see you two music-fiends. (Well, just fiends, actually, right?)

    Hope your works and travels are keeping you both safe and warm. 

    Here's a cycling song for you. Coco Love, live down home. 

    you owe me

    I'm in for 10% (catalyst commission)

    Nice piece, quinn.

    I'll do some listening to Del Amitri. I only know their hits: Nothing Ever Happens, which I love, and Roll to Me, which is so-so,

    Hey G. I put up some of Del Amitri's best over at the Posterous, since they are so few at YouTube. A couple of ballads, a couple of power pop. Their "hits" did them absolutely no justice.


    Thanks, I'll check 'em out.

    Great tunes, Q. Sorry to hear about your week.

    Hey O. Well, it's the weekend, right? Tide turns and all that.

    But listen. I got a lead for ya. Nice band - from Jersey - but needs a new lead singer, bad. 

    You ready to come outta the basement?

    So long as you got the hair, we can fake the rest.


    I doubt there is much I know that you don't, but here's a good one from my favorite retro band:

    One on my fav movie lines was from Ulysses' Gaze, when the old man says to the character played by Harvey Keitel: "In the beginning God created the journey.  Then he created nostalgia and doubt."

    I could prattle on, being nostalgic over so many films, but I will let Camus say a few words:

    Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being

    What I mean is this: that one can, with no romanticism, feel nostalgic for lost poverty.


    That nostalgia for unity, that appetite fot the absolute illustrates the essential impulse for the human drama. But the fact of that nostalgia´s existence does not imply that it is to be immediately satisfied. For if, bridging the gulf that separates desire from conquest, we assert with Parmenides the reality of the One (whatever it may be) we fall into the ridiculous contradiction of a mind that asserts total unity proves by its very assertion its own difference and the diversity it claimed to resolve. This other vicious circle is enough to stifle our hopes.

    There are again truisms. I shall again repeat that they are not interesting in themselves but in the consequences that can be deduced from them. I know another truism: it tells me that man is mortal. One can nevertheless count the minds that have deduces the extreme conclusions from it. It is essential to consider as a constant point of reference in this essay the regular hiatus between what we fancy we know and what we really know, practical assent and simulated ignorance which allows us to live with ideas which, if we truly put them to the test, ought to upset our whole life. Faced with this inextricable contradiction of the mind, we shall fully graps the divorce separating us from out own creations. So long as the mind keeps silent in the motionless world of its hopes, everything is reflected and arranged in the unity of nostalgia. But with its first move this world cracks and tumbles: an infinite number of shimmering fragmenst is offered to understanding. We must despair of ever reconstructing the familiar, calm surface which would give us peace of heart. After so many centuries of inquiries, so many abdications among thinkers, we are well aware that this is true to all our knowledge. With the exception of professional rationalists, today people despair of true knowledge. If the only significant history of human thought were to be written, it would have to be the history of its sucessive regrets and its impotences.

    So sorry about your week, Q, and I wish I could help, but I can't. Kid is sitting here with 23 electrodes cemented to her head, and I'm off to the clinic with some chest infection. But some friends are bringing pizza over, so it's all good!

    I can try to turn you on to some new old music, maybe. (LisB is having none of it, but you might like these youngsters)


    Nice Koooooooooooooooks. Yumm. 

    "Pizza - The Solvent of All Suffering." ;-)

     Great tunes. Ain't nothing wrong with nostolgia. You truely love life, and life hurts. Nothing wrong with embracing that sometimes. I wish you the absolute best.

    I know it got made into a Heineken commercial, but I've been loving this from 2009:


    Also, the new Kanye album is great as is the new Nikki MInaj.

    Checked out your linky to The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - fun band. A Danish B-52's.

    Some other great tunes - Sun Ain't Shining Anymore, Around The Bend, etc. - not just the one.

    Tnxs, Destor.

    When Johannes Hofer rendered the German “heimwey’ as the Neo-Latin nostos – algos  in 1668 ( god how I remember that year – seems like only yesterday ) it was a term of art for a disease – severe homesickness.   Today, in my country, our place is now called “The “Homeland,” another rendering from German, in this case part of “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer.”  And we have merged many of our offices of government into a gigantic assemblage dedicated to “Homeland Security”, as in Department of.  Their mission is to freeze everything in its place, unchangeable and safe – forever.  Nothing stands as a prior good to this ambition.  Change is the enemy. Everything must be dipped in this pool of Ice-9. This is nostalgia the disease.

    Lunatics.  Life exists only in the present.  The past is understandable because it is done, finished.  It makes sense because it no longer lives.  Life does not make sense.  It is the time of the possible but not yet actual.  Choice is the only option.  But choice is a burden too and so it is often consoling to think back to the past, to enjoy what was in an understandable if wholly inaccurate form.  Repression rules in this effort.  It allows pain to be remembered only as concept, not as it was. 

    I am truly sorry for the difficulty of this moment for you. I too often play a song because it congers some feeling I once had.  I know I’m fooling myself but it is an innocent indulgence.  I find no harm in doing this.  The song ends but the feeling endures.  So now I am ready to go on – again. Maybe it is the price of freedom.

    Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Change is the option.  Change is the option. Change is the enemy. Change is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Choice is the option. Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Change is the option. Change is the enemy. Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Change is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Change is the option. Change is the enemy. Change is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Choice is the option. Change is the enemy. Choice is the option.  Choice is the enemy. Change is the choice.

    I think I'm getting it.

    Well there is a dance step that goes with this.  And a cute little outfit with lots of crenaline pettycoats.  Shall I send you one?

    >>>> 5 <<<<


    Sorry about your bad week.  A new day here, and I decided to get over being peeved with you; I've had a few Bad Weeks of my own here and there, and know what they can do to our everyday talking to each other.

    I first wrote some stuff about nostalgia not being what you're talking about, that it's more moments of crystal awareness frozen in time, safe, knowable places, comforting maybe because you came out the other side fuller, with more humanity or something.... but it all sounded like bullshit no one but me might understand.   Or give a crap about.   ;o)

    Anyhoo, this is for you; John Grant wrote The Dude Abides for You and Me; he opens it with the Sons of the Pioneers lyrics; you can just hear their honeyed harmonies:

     I know when night has gone
    That a new world's born at dawn.

    I'll keep rolling along
    Deep in my heart is a song
    Here on the range I belong
    Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds

    And after that percolates through ya, there's this: 


    And yes. There's Creedence.

    Thanks for the timely reminder! 

    Doot doot doot..... 

    Forgarty's singin': Dude, Dude, Dude!  Listen again...

    I think good music stays that way, even though, over time, you may come to feel differently about it. Not so good music fades.

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