Note: About a year ago I wrote a column highlighting my addiction to procuring and listening to new music. After my external hard drive crashed, I reevaluated my life and took a much-needed sabbatical. But after recently giving in to Spotify, I have felt the monster of addiction return, like a cold, dark moon creeping over the horizon. The following was written in the midst of a recent all-day Spotify binge.
I feel it all I feel it all I feel it all sings Feist so sweetly into the chasm inside my head, so deep and empty and space so much empty space such a vast endless void for it all for me to take it all in. I search and navigate and discover and gasp and save it as a playlist always save it as a playlist making playlists from my playlists playing lists of all my playlists, and then there’s friends’ lists and critics’ lists and musicians’ lists too many lists and I can’t help myself can’t help myself but to feel it all and feel it all and hear it all and feel it all.
Chromatics take me into the black. Crystal Castles give me the plague. Flaming Lips show me the terror. Jagwar Ma has me howlin’. The Nighttime Adventure Society brings the doctor. Kendrick Lamar kills my vibe. Alt-J dissolves me. Wampire pulls up in the hearse. Modest Mouse buries me with it. King Tuff is dancing on my grave. Michael Kiwanuka takes me home again where my eyes flutter open to the dawn of a new day another chance to immerse my tender mind in the cluttered infinity of the world of music day after day all over again.
The thought alone wears me down so I put on the new Jason Isbell album to relax. He starts talking about addiction and my interest is piqued. “I was so sure what I needed was more,” he says. “It’s cold in this house and I ain’t going out to chop wood,” he croons. I listen to his struggles with addiction with real addiction with REAL addiction and I feel like an ass I feel like such an ass. I pull myself out of myself and I sit up straight and rub the shame like dust from my eyes.
I need some confidence so I throw on Jay-Z. I get the vibe but I struggle to relate. He’s addicted too, but his vices are tuxedos and fine art and champagne and luxurious vacations to lush European locales with his beautiful wife and perfect angel of a child, pestered by paparazzi who he loves to hate, embracing himself with both arms not as a king but as a god, some maniacal narcissistic being from Greek legend galavanting recklessly around the world leaving a line of wounded, confused mortals in his wake.
Frustrated I go to The Knife’s latest album to find answers. They pull me into some bleak hole in the center of the soul where dirt fills your eyes and the heat of glowing embers pulses faintly at the back of your mind, the putrid darkness that lays inside us all somewhere buried deep inside that we keep hidden from the world from ourselves from the bright glittering orb of happiness that is so easily corrupted by that shadow kept within. I dive deeper into that world, claw my way down through the dirt, the beat pulsing thicker, heavier every inch, my fingers picking furiously at the hard clay sediment in the blackest reaches of my id.
I break through the void into silence. White blinding silence. It seems endless, like a lifeless expanse of desert, where even sharp wind blows quietly untouched. I walk through the world, hearing only my footsteps, my shallow breath in my chest. The silence starts to calm me. I grow comfortable in this space. But quickly it grows too comfortable. Like I’ve been here before. Like I’ll be here again. Like I need something more, something bigger something deeper like this place is the just the pale blank canvas of the human experience that deserves to be painted.
A dull noise drifts across the landscape. It spreads over me like a warm breeze, the notes fluttering through my body with wonder. I close my eyes to the music and follow it to the source: a bubbling oasis overflowing with sound. All the great and beautiful music ever created, rippling softly in the wind, growing lush green life in the empty expanse around it. I drop to my knees and dunk my head in the pool. The water fills my ears fills my head fills my soul. The world teems with life on the surface but I can’t hear anything but the beauty underwater. I pull my head out for a moment, the silence pulsing dully in the air. I stay long enough to catch my breath before diving back beneath the surface. It’s so much harder to leave once I’m here so I stay. For now I stay forever I stay beneath the cool blue surface of the sound.