For one thing, it’s way too late and I have been up for far too long. I spent the past few hours at a friend’s house 40 minutes away during a blackout caused by a lightning storm (as happens this time of year, when the heat and humidity cause that specific kind of friction). I left as the lights came back on–though even then, the lightning was still streaking the sky like a reel from a 1920’s film about dogfights. The only thing missing was the booming thunder.
The radio doesn’t play a wide variety of songs, and even the station I usually listen to alt rock on hasn’t been playing alt rock. There’s not much difference between what gets played on the alt rock station and KISS 108, to be frank. Not that me listening to one CD on repeat is much better, but at least I know that any lack of variety in the sound is because I put something on with just one artist rather than a bunch of different artists sounding the same.
During the past few days it’s been “Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend. I like Vampire Weekend plenty if just because of the way the music sounds–let’s be real, when we listen to music, we don’t always pay attention to the lyrics–and even if I’m aware of the words, I haven’t spent an enormous amount of time analyze them until I found myself driving for upwards of three hours within a single day.
I work at a camp that takes place on a Catholic college campus. It isn’t like, “Oh, the majority of the students who go to this school are Christian,” or whatever–I’m saying, there’s a small shrine to the Virgin Mary where you can sit and pray and light a candle. Coupling that with the often explicitly commentary on religion in the songs of “Modern Vampires of the City,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
(I also picked up “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is related in a very far off way, I guess.)
This isn’t to say that I haven’t thought about the lyrics of any of these songs before, but things feel a little different. The album came out in 2012, and I’d like to think that nobody is the same person they were four years ago. I’d like to think that we’ve all changed for the better.
Driving along the Bridgewater Triangle, watching the last remnants of rural Massachusetts fade into the increasingly urbanized-suburban hubs (not that urbanization is necessarily a bad thing) while the sky glowed a strange orange-pink, I listened to the same 12 songs on repeat. Sometimes you can get a feel for the color of someone’s voice–it’s hard to explain if you haven’t seen it, but I guess it’s like synesthesia–and Ezra Koenig’s voice is so, so yellow that it’s overwhelming. The Romantics had a thing about epiphanies in their poetry, as I guess most poetry has, but I don’t know how to articulate it. Whatever that beat was in my chest, I don’t know the words for it. I can try reaching, but it’s just a reach.
“Unbelievers” isn’t the song that the title of this post comes from, but it is the one that I’ve been thinking about the most. The sky opened into different shades of gray, allowing lightning bolts to strike down, and I thought about it as I have for the past four years since it came out. To be honest, like the speaker of the song, I don’t really know what I believe in.
A lot of commentary that exists about the song (specifically Genius commentary) refers to it specifically as Christian, but given the other works on the album (I’m looking at the “Luck like a Kennedy” line from “Diane Young,” for instance), that’s too broad a category. There’s an enormous difference between Orthodox Christians versus Roman Catholics, and then even bigger differences between Catholics and the various Protestant sects. Like the speaker suggests in “Unbelievers,” even when you’re doing the same thing as other people, there are still people who will tell you you’re doing it wrong.
I finally heard thunder rumble around 1:40 a.m., when I was on my way back home.
I guess I’ve just been in a pretty contemplative mood. Also, it’s late and I’m tired. There’s “Hannah Hunt,” too, which is touching on some different feelings, but maybe three-verging-on-four-a.m. isn’t the time or place to do it. Or maybe it’s not the place to do it alone.
In any case, I think I’m probably going to switch discs tomorrow. There’s only so long I can listen to twelve songs before I start over analyzing everything.
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