Thursday, December 15, 2011


I'm listening to an old Beck tape I found recently as I drive my Crown Vic to the D Note. I forgot just how good early Beck can be. I'm listening to Stereopathetic Soul Manure. I can't believe how sad it is either. There are very few songwriters I know who can deliver sadness as beautifully as Beck. Will Oldham, Jeff Mangum come to mind. This may be the reason these are my favorite songwriters. It is a true alchemical gift they possess, turning pain into beauty.

I don't even know I am sad as I'm driving down the road listening to early Beck, but suddenly I am exquisitely sad. It is unbearable to be here, and yet the music reveals an utter beauty that can be found only inside such sadness as this and so for the moment there is nowhere else I want to be. I am basking in the darkness, on the sharp point of heart-break. Though emotions are ephemeral, when they crystallize into song it feels as authentically true as any feeling I know of, perhaps because it is loneliness itself that is being shared.

An artwork comes to mind: Spend a year amassing 10,000 pages of the saddest stories I can find. Print the work in ten ten-volume sets. Call it "The Horror".

The following year put out another ten ten-volume sets of 10,000 pages of the happiest stories I can find. Call it "Unicorn Chaser".

If happiness is the ostensible objective of life, the pursuit thereof, then why does the time spent immersing myself in the sad stories seem more productive than time spent with the happy stories? It doesn't quite add up.

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