“ If I could change how I’m insane, If I could learn to leave my troubles behind”
I was static, standing in the middle island of a busy intersection, rush hour traffic, downtown Chicago. I was Alone...My ride share from Toronto had abandoned me there.
I took me a solid minute to realize It hadn't abandon me, I left that vehicle willingly. I just felt that way.
My body started shaking, I was terrified and without a clue...What the fuck I was doing?
Truthfully, It didn’t matter where I was, Chicago or back in Toronto, that feeling was haunting me. That feeling of having no idea what I was doing. I had lost my direction, completely lost it. So here I was...
I looked around, not recognizing a wink of my surroundings.
Frozen in fear, unable to move.
I attempted to affirm myself, to sooth the nervousness brewing in my gut and the impact it had on my circulatory system. In those affirmations I felt my chest rise and fall, over and over again, and after a few of those deep breaths, somehow I magically caught myself, I felt my body again, so in tune and aware of it's ability to be mobile. My gaze straight ahead, into the skyline of that mysterious city, I held my head high and called an Uber.
“In time we’ll both be free from this ball and chain”
How did I find myself in the middle of the road in Chicago?
“These seven words I say to you, one by one, I love you and you have to know...”
Up to that point, I had been in the same relationship for, 10-years. Yeah, nearly 50% of my life. Yeah, we were high school sweethearts which, yeah, sounds freekin’ adorable, I know... But if the finest most functional china plates can crack than ours laced with cracks and blemishes, never stood a chance!
One of the big things that always drew me to my ex was his passion for music. He’s what people say, when they’re trying to be polite, is an audiophile. His philosophy ; 7.1 audio or bust.
I’m pretty sure one of the big reasons why he dug me had less to do with my own big broad love of music and more with the fact that I actually knew and could appreciate his prize musical library filled with obscure shit. It was one of those relationships, and I hate using broad terms to define any type of relationship, but I'm doing my best here to relate to you all.
I really looked up to him, whole heart and mind, thought his brain was the end all be all when it came to music knowledge. So you can imagine how conflicted I was when, for record store day many years ago, one of my favourite artists, one I had mucho respect for, released something on cassette tape. When I brought this up to my music guru of a guy, he responded, so simply ‘Cassette tapes are terrible audio quality and degrade over time’. Not only did he not acknowledge my interest but he made me feel like a moron for showing some.
“Cat scratch a beast, My words that made you bleed”
A couple years later I was out with a girlfriend when I saw a valentines day themed cassette tape player that was incredibly cute. My eyes lit up as did a little spark in my nostalgic heart. She suggested I ask for it for the big day and I told her I couldn’t, I’d be too embarrassed. She told me not to be silly and go for it. So, when I, eyes to my toes, flush on my cheeks, presented it to the big ol X boyfriend he reiterated the exact statement, word for word, as if practiced “Cassette tapes are terrible audio quality and degrade over time’. He never said he wouldn’t buy me the player but as time has told, he never did.
Now, just to clarify, for reasons un-related to cassette tapes, we broke up.
Most importantly, I did most of the breaking. Don’t be fooled by that statement, the relationship had made it’s way to that resentful and miserable point, long, long before hand. Someone just had to be the person to finally pull the trigger, and that, was me!
“Who had the last word, I’m telling you first”
During that time in my life of newfound freedom, I really struggled with my own musical voice... I knew I needed something, some way to enrich my life in the music I wanted and was so deprived of. It was always such a big part of my life and after the breakup I was left with a big hole in my musical heart. So, the first thing that came to my mind was to take my broken self to pitchfork music festival in Chicago to see Solange perform ‘A Seat at the Table’ and of course the reunion of LCD Soundsystem. I wanted to surround myself with the most positive of music vibes.
But getting there, getting to that point, all alone, really shook me. I had barely even gone to get groceries by myself before, let alone, make a trek all the way to Chicago on my lonesome. Thus, the overwhelming sensations that overpowered my usually extroverted self in the opening paragraph of this story.
“It’s starting to burn, and I want to go home, the only home I’ve known, lost in the storm”
Those first steps out my Uber I felt so unlike myself. I was terrified by everyone, paranoid everyone knew I was alone. Like as if that made me lesser, like I was fooling myself. I couldn’t shake it, fuck it, I couldn’t even enjoy the Dirty Projectors playing. Eventually LCD Sound system went on and I calmed down enough during "All My Friends" while surrounded by a bunch of friendly strangers pretending to be mine! But overall, I was feeling weird.
That was until the next day...
In the sunniest part of that Festival...
Weyes Blood came onto the centre stage...
I knew her music a little but never really found myself relating to it's dramatics. But, live, there was some level of magnetism to this babe that I never knew before. I couldn't look away!
That was when she busted out the song "These 7 Words". So suddenly, I got it, got her, got her lyrics and finally, after being shrouded in fear and anxiety, I got to the core of what the fuck I was going through!
I felt my whole world shake like an earthquake. How un-nerving, someone knew exactly how I was feeling and how freekin’ miserable I was!
I don’t know if you’ve ever had that kind of experience, but from many of the conversations I’ve had since, it’s quite common to project yourself in someone else's art. As an artist myself, most of what I put out there in the universe is to purge myself of emotions, negative or positive, and if someone can actually find something in it themselves, great! (For the record, thats what I'm hoping of you, my fine readers).
Catharsis... this was that feeling!
“I want you mostly in the morning when my soul is weak from dreaming”
And, as is the case with most good therapy sessions, after that moment I was floating on air more wispy than her stunning vocals. In her music, I felt a piece of peace.
I took my newly and cathartically cleared brain on a stroll through the record fair at the festival, and you know what I noticed? Every freekin’ record label that had set up shop was selling tapes, and they were selling a lot of them! I swallowed my pride and at the risk of sounding like the moron, I decided to ask someone why.
Well... Wouldn’t you know that it’s the easiest and cheapest format to duplicate music from. It also ensures the artist gets more money back which is helluva lot more important to these little Indie dudes than it is to the Taylor Swifts of the world, which was kinda the point of that record fair.
Get this, you get your digital download too, so you can listen to it wherever and whenever you want but you get the handy dandy physical copy for your shelf and the satisfaction of knowing you did something good for the little guy. These are the guys who make like 2 bucks off of each tape and barely make enough to grab a pitcher of beer which will fuel them to make their next album.
I gotta say too, sure, the audio quality of a vinyl is better, but, there is something so wonderful about hitting that play button on a tape player and listening to those warm analog tape sounds. It’s an experience all of it’s own, which I love when it comes to the listening process. I realized that, on this trip, how much the room you're in affects the listening process. If you approach it in a clinical way, it feels clinical. You make it feel lived in, chalked full of memories and warm hisses, it gives you that same warm feeling.
It's the air, your mood... literally everything else other than your freekin 7.1 audio set up system. Hey, I’m not bitter, I promise, I just feel like I opened up a door to a whole new musical world and I was finally finding the confidence to live in it!
‘These seven words are no longer mine Who am I but a stranger who took you down’
So, as you can imagine, when I made my trek back to Toronto, my head was clear, my smile wide, my heart was feeling fine, my confidence high, higher than it was before, and my arms were filled, to the brim, with cassette tapes! There was something, this attachment to the medium, that no one could take away from me. It felt like it was mine.
“Now I face Tomorrow”
You wanna know how much it all really meant to me and how I finally got back to what music used to be about? It has a lot to do with how I finally silenced that voice in the back of my head that used to mutter those insecure inducing music related sentiments like “Cassette tapes are terrible audio quality and degrade over time’? Well, for that you’re gunna have to play track 3 - Also known as - The Reason for the glitter.