28 October 2006

sometimes i am such a wuss

auto rock : mogwai
click here or on the image below to listen

Has a song ever made you cry, and not in a contemptuous smart-ass kind of way? In the wide range of human emotions, nothing is as confusing and unreal as shedding a tear over a song that has no sentimental meaning to you. I was standing at a bus stop the other day, staring at nothing, listening to my iPod as usual. The morning had been perfectly ordinary: a slice of bread, a swig of orange juice, fumbling for my keys, waiting for the elevator, a foggy distance, an old man walking his dog, a breath of autumn, missing the 8:40. I could have called for a cab but instead I decided to wait for the next bus. Alone at the shed, I crossed my arms by force of habit, and rested my back against the billboard. There was nothing in particular to occupy the mind. I focused on the music. What was this quiet intro? An 18-second soundtrack to the birth of the universe? And then came the piano, calling, heaving, a stirring succession of notes pulling me out of my early morning indifference. And before I knew it, an invisible lump had built up in my chest, pounding with every beat of the drums, growing larger as the volume rose, and finally forcing a tear from the corner of my eye. I looked down and pressed my lips against my fist. Another tear fell. I turned my back to wipe my cheek. The pounding only grew louder. Was this a never-ending crescendo? All I could do was wait for the song to end, and it did with little warning, a sudden break after a rush, like a rug pulled from under my feet, throwing me into a wall of questions that spelled the same: What the fuck just happened?

alone in kyoto : air
click here or on the image below to listen

I will never know, and I don't care enough to find out. All I know is that Auto Rock continues to haunt me, minus the tears. I can't connect the song to anything in my memory – unlike Alone In Kyoto, which comes from the soundtrack to the film Lost in Translation. I saw it shortly after it came out and really liked the score, especially the intro where Bill Murray was being driven from the airport to his hotel. I remember the part of the film where this song was used. Three scenes, in fact: a couple in kimono marching to their wedding holding hands, Scarlett Johansson tying a strip of white paper on a branch of a wishing tree, and again her character half-bouncing on a trail paved with round stones. The film succeeded in resonating the isolation and alientation of travelers. This song brings to me that kind of sentiment; it doesn't make me weep, but it sure isn't happy. Even without the memory of the film, the song actually stands on its own as a mild blow to the heart. If the trilling vocals don't release butterflies in your stomach, then congratulations for not being the wuss that I am.

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