Wednesday, September 27, 2006

song of the week: a coral room

I have hit crisis point.

I don't ever mean to turn this blog into some sort of confessional, but bear with me. For a long while now, I have been kidding myself that things that make me unhappy will go away or change or are even doing me some good. But right now I'm at that point where if you cry once and slightly, you suddenly can't stop crying and the sky starts looking suspiciously unstable.

It's okay, nothing major. I've just realised that I really did want that place to do a masters that I foolishly turned down at the start of the summer, and that I could be starting it right now instead of dreaming about being around books all day at work.

Or at least, I wanted whatever it was that meant I wouldn't be where I am right now, and option #1 has now definitely passed. And I sort of want to kick myself for wasting another year, and I feel a bit more trapped than I normally do in my mortgage and my office dress-code, but also slightly less trapped because I've stopped ignoring the fact that, yes, I'm disappointed and unhappy. So, now I guess there ain't much more to do except change it, because I am all out of tears.

It was Kate Bush what done it. I always listen to her somewhere between late summer and early autumn. I think it's because I always feel fragile around this time of year, because unlike most people, I don't count my years passing in birthdays or new years, but in academic years. This is really the first year where I have had nothing to leave behind and nothing to look forward to in September, but instead, everything is continuing as it did before. And it's because I thought I wanted it to.

I was already feeling a bit delicate when listening to Cloudbusting, precisely because I remembered listening to it this time last year and feeling completely invincible. Today I just felt very frightened and very young. And then A Coral Room gave me the nudge I needed, as I realised that I felt as lost and grey as the song, and I wanted something so bad and it had gone. I wasn't crying because Kate Bush was being autumnal. I was crying because in that moment, the song sounded like I felt and was what I needed to feel.

And I'm telling you this, because I think that's essentially what music should do and is there for, and it would be lying somehow if I omitted this from the other, perhaps less personal songs of the week.


At 27 September, 2006 23:07 , Blogger paddington said...

I listened to Aerial obsessively in South America last year when I was feeling just about as delicate as I ever have done. I won't bore you with the details, but I still find the opening 30 seconds or so (up to and including the lines "There's a city, draped in net / Fisherman net") breathtakingly beautiful. Without wishing to analyse chord cycles, the sequence of [ethereal minor chord > stoic major chord > low, grave minor chord > cradling, comforting major chord] is devastating.

What makes Aerial (and especially Coral Room) so special is that it is timeless, placeness and almost person-less. Timeless because - production values aside - it could really have been written at any point in the last hundred years. Placeness because it perpetually drifts somewhere between the sky and the sea, both of which it constantly alludes to. And person-less because, rather than reaching out to or trying to attract another person, as rock usually does, it curls up into something of a foetal ball. There is the constant hint, particularly with its references to the maternal (Kate as mother on "Bertie", Kate as bereaved daughter on "Coral Room", perhaps even Kate as the infant observer of some traumatic event on "Mrs Bertolozzi") of the child clutching at its mother's apron-strings, refusing to let go. Perhaps this is why for you, as for me, it exudes comfort and yet makes the world seem like an extremely scary place.

Re. the MA - don't be downcast. A year is a very short amount of time if you wanted to do one next year, and besides, why not use this year to do something life-changing? It's amazing how, if you put enough energy into exploring for something that might excite you, it falls into your lap. (Sweet jesus, I've just read that back - I sound like Dr Miriam Stoppard. But you know what I mean...)

And I've heard Argentina and Bolivia can be very life-changing during the summer months...


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