got what i wanted when you showed up
I love all of his albums, but I agree with most folks who think musicforthemorningafter was his best songwriting. For some reason, each of Pete’s albums have shown up with perfect timing in my life. musicforthemorningafter was something that, as a fifteen year old, really showed me what American rock and roll could be. Day I Forgot showed up when I was spending a lot of time beating up on myself, and songs like “Come Back Home,” “Man in Uniform,” and “All at Once” were a kind of nice warm blanket to wrap up in. And then Nightcrawler popped in just as I was leaving college and struggling to decide what to do with my life. Now, he’s released Back & Fourth and it is just, so good.
It’s hard to describe what’s so good about it. It’s a little more Middle America for him, it’s a little less adolescent. It’s funny, because he’s able to work in these cultural phenomenons into his lyrics that seem trite when you first hear them, but later they take on a really sweet meaning. The first time I listened to “Social Development Dance”, all I heard of the lyrics was, “tried to find out what had happened to you / I Googled you in quotes, got no results”. I thought it was clever and hilarious. I didn’t hear the rest of the song though, about the girl who got away, and how she died later after they lost touch.
This album is grown up, and a little more whiskey-soaked than his previous releases. I love it because I love him, but it’s definitely something that will need a lot more listening to before I see him at the Cannery on July 16.
I’m behind on a lot of things these days, including posting about Infinite Summer. It’s well underway, and I am too. At least, I’m on par to meet the targeted reading quota each week.
Reading David Foster Wallace is like punching yourself repeatedly in the face. But in a good way. In a way that’s stimulating to the brain. At least, I think it is.
So far, in 107 pages of reading Infinite Jest absolutely nothing has happened. Nothing at all. Except that some Agent from some Bureau Sans Services has dressed like a woman and hiked a mountain to meet a member of the Wheelchair Assassains. And I’m not even kidding. That’s all that’s going on. But everything else about it is so hysterical and ridiculous and absurd, I can’t put it down. (Except to take an Advil or two when my head starts exploding from reading all the footnotes. [Yes, footnotes. In a novel.])
Frankly, it’s one of the most honest things I’ve read in a long time, and brilliant. And insightful. And now, I just wish something would happen. Everyone over at InfSum keeps repeating, “You’ve got to trust Wallace to know what he’s doing.” And I do, in theory. But in practice, I would really like to know what James Incandenza’s filmography has to do with Hal’s speech problem and Wardine’s momma and Kate’s depression.
There’s another recurring theme over at InfSum that I’m already at least seeing and loving about the book. One of Wallace’s themes is the impossibility of communication. And aside from the fact that this novel is almost 1,100 pages long and very oblique, he really has done, so far, an incredible job of showing just how ridiculous and one-sided every conversation or communique humans have is.
I would like to know where the whole Hamlet thing comes into play, though. I spent a week rereading Shakespeare just so I could be as prepared as possible for Infinite Jest and it doesn’t seem to be paying off. Though, I will say that I never realized just how funny the play is until I reread it a few weeks ago. Hamlet is certainly the precursor to the modern-day Emo Kid and, in my amateur opinion, he might really have benefitted from a clinical bipolar disorder diagnosis.
Hopefully over the course of the rest of the Infinite Summer, I’ll be able to post more regular updates about my progress through this gargantuan mess. But the rest of this week will be, gloriously, taken up by my Whirlwind Marah Roadtrip of 2009, Part Two.
I’ll be seeing Marah at The Basement here in Nashville tonight. Then tomorrow, Libby and I are going to see them at Southgate House in Cincinnati.
Happy 4th ‘o July, if I don’t see you before then.
Filed under: books, music | 1 Comment
Tags: Back & Fourth, David Foster Wallace, Hamlet, Infinite Jest, Infinite Summer, literature, Marah, Pete Yorn, Shakespeare