“On Holidays, Drama and U2”

* “If your life is such a big joke 

Why should I care?”

– Interpol


We’ve come now to Thanksgiving and I’m feeling a great ease, with the outside conditions overcast but unseasonably pleasant. In my mind, I’m planning what booze to drink after a brief trip to my mom’s for dinner. I’ll be watching the Ole Miss – Mississippi St. football game this evening, which is the best college football game there is, and always takes place on Turkey Day. Life is simple right now and it feels good and right.

My blog is about music. I love music. It’s not my life but I love it and I understand it well enough to write about it, I think. I get emails from record execs in Germany asking me to review albums on their labels. I’m honest. I send messages that are polite but direct and get friendly replies, back from them. It’s not everything but it’s something.

Maybe I’m lucky. I don’t even get nervous doing this stuff. I’d say maybe for one day out of a year, or one every two years, or so, I get that feeling where I don’t know what the He** I’m doing, or I don’t know what constitutes quality art, etc. Usually, though, it’s second nature. It’s so ingrained into me. I made sure to know it as something I could always look to that would be real and would not be an enterprise of someone trying to sell something to me. 

I also work a job, in order to make money. This something about which I don’t feel too bad since there’s not even any money in music, these days. It stands to reason, in other words, that there wouldn’t be any money in music criticism. But we see it as a trough to a crest and likewise we love it anyway, regardless of the pay. 

Yesterday was this one dude’s last day at my job. He came in not saying hi to anyone and went to the speaker and turned it off when it was playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for” by U2. And I don’t mean to exploit him but it’s meaningful that the band playing was U2. This is a very contentious band. They have a pretty significant amount of opponents out there, especially considering how continually ubiquitous and popular they continue to be, that song particularly so. They have songs that are serene and majestic with an intertwining batch of melancholy, like that Joshua Tree selection. They have songs that are edgy and dark (“Bullet the Blue Sky”), songs that are dirty and filthy (“Numb”) and even songs that are blatantly misanthropic, if not apocalyptic (“Staring at the Sun”). Nonetheless, they seem to continually get the reputation of being choir boys, like they haven’t seen enough of life to successfully graft an authoritative scope of it. 

And “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for” is a dramatic song. Let’s face it. It’s not a song that you just throw together as some science experiment joke with your high school friends. It’s a song that has purpose, one whose objective is being heard, and enjoyed, by the entire world, which, by all accounts, it is. It’s a song that seems destined to produce the awe-inspiring cover version transmitted by Tomas Doncker. 

I think my Celine got ruined in my last apartment but he’s got some great line about humanity exhibiting antipathy and disapproval at the very most commendable traits in others, in either Journey to the End of the Night or Death on the Installment Plan, seeming to imply that it’s because of these traits, and not in spite of them, that the ill wishing occurs. And don’t think this phenomenon is something to which U2 is a stranger. I’ve read reports about their Dublin genesis involving people throwing stuff at them and even attacking them for the very basis of their style of music, that it wasn’t “punk,” or deliberately juvenile or boorish, as was the general flavor of the week in the early ’80s. And I just can’t help but think this exact moral chasm were at work with this dude, who ended up walking out of my job today, to never be seen again (bummer ’cause he was a He** of a weed man). Look: everybody was enjoying the music. It’s a psychosomatic phenomenon that even involves body language and ergonomics. Don’t think that he doesn’t see this. 

So there’s such a thing as reliance on drama, or pain. The ironic thing is that these are the exact things ideally being sublimated by great music, whether it’s U2, Interpol, The Clash, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder or 2pac. I mean, take this logic: you know the stakes were high with 2pac and Biggie, so why wouldn’t the best rock bands also take an earnest, purposeful and perhaps even egomanaiacal approach to putting together their music? Today, on Thanksgiving, I’m relinquishing the drama. Last month it was October but today is not a day for U2. Today is a day for relaxing as I have no toxic people or obligations distorting my mind set. 

Why do we work so hard all year, sweating all summer, then to relax on some Thursday in late November? I guess the reason is that it just feels right. Well, now, with “Black Thursday,” maybe this endeavor has even been thrown under the bus, and people have to replace the respite with the struggle. I’m just waiting for them to start actually handing out Thanksgiving dinners to shoppers in Target. But today, I’m choosing to take a holiday in the true sense of the word, and maybe it’s true that my lack of need for music today means that objectivity in music’s assessment is impossible — what’s good and bad is all relative. Well, it’s rude to turn the music off without asking, anyway. Nobody would deny that, at least. Happy holidays from DD. 


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