Mar. 6th, 2013

[identity profile]

Jenny, You're Barely Alive
Rilo Kiley
Saddle Creek 50

I used to love watching episode's of TLC's Intervention.  I'd sit staring at the television with my mouth hanging open, shaking my head from side to side in disbelief, thinking to myself, "how can these people let things spiral so disastrously out of control?"  It was astonishing that the people on the show were often so resistant to recovery or help of any kind; that they put their addiction above all else; that they fought to protect the thing that was killing them.

Addiction is strange because while you aren't oblivious to the fact that you are in the throes of an addiction, you are also not entirely aware of the degree to which it has a hold on you.  An addiction is a bit like an unhealthy relationship.  Even though there are things you vehemently hate about this thing, deep down a part of you loves it too.  It would be easier to break free of it if you didn't get anything from it--if you were only aware of the negatives.

I'm not talking about addition to television here--though, I mention it because my week without television is what brought me back to this song.  This week I realized that I am much more dependent on television than I ever thought I was.  The void I felt in its absence (at the start of the week, anyway) left me feeling downright anxious.  I use dependence rather than addiction here, because addiction is more all-consuming; much harder to shake.

I really loved Rilo Kiley for a bit--around the time More Adventurous came out back in 2004.  I saw them perform at...I want to say Cabaret...I think they opened for Nada Surf?  Something about this band, Jenny Lewis's voice, the lyrics of their songs really resonated with me at the time.  "Portions for Foxes" appears on more mix CDs--compiled at that time--than I can count.  I picked this song because of that repeated and increasingly disquieting line, "you're barely alive".  Living with an addiction is living a kind of half-life.  You cling to it though because you're looking for "Something to mute, change, or just distract you/Something to put inside you to give the illusion of life".  I love "illusion of life"...the harder it becomes to break and addiction, the easier it becomes to delude yourself into thinking you're fine.

This is a big topic, and I feel like I've only scratched the surface, but I'm okay with that.  Like the process of freeing oneself from an addiction, it's ongoing; a continuing discussion.
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: Oh this is a big one.

"Faceplant" is one of those songs that's been in my life for so long that it's hard to think it's not intensely formative. It isn't that I heard it when I was a kid, but that it appeared at exactly the right time. There are a few songs in my library like this: notable game-changers, songs which stretched my understanding of what music was and could be, subtle introductions to new genres and ways to create music. And it is songs like "Faceplant" which have, over the years, helplessly "addicted" me to music -- constantly searching for that new high, something fresh and original, recapturing old feelings and desperately trying to form new connections.

In grade 11, I was trying to cement my goth identity. Thing was, in Hudson, goth wasn't really a...viable subculture (i.e. I was the only one). While that made me feel pretty unique, it also alienated me from anyone who could have shown me the gothic light, so to speak. My style, philosophy, and music selections were basically trial and error and the odd Rolling Stone article (at least until I met Claire and Meg and everyone in cegep). I had a ton of metal albums which I didn't really like, but listened to because they were loud and angry and I was a goth!!; I adored Marilyn Manson, but had trouble finding other loud/angry artists with a similar appreciation of melody/audible lyrics. The term "industrial" meant nothing to me.

A 'friend' (if only in the way that high school oddballs tend to congregate into a leftover clique and have to deal with each other) recommended "Faceplant" in January 2003. It was my first real introduction to pop-industrial, which would quickly become a favourite genre. It would introduce me to an expansive, powerful feeling I had never had when listening to music -- one that would precurse and probably provoke my love of breakbeats, electronica, and breakcore. The synthetic and the melodic twisting together -- an addiction waiting to happen, and you can easily trace at least some of its origins to "Faceplant."

This song is also about addiction -- in a really artful, beautiful, extended metaphor. It's in no way original to compare a love story to an addiction story -- but the way it's done here is so fucking excellent. It has some of my favourite lyrics ever, and the way they're performed is just revoltingly good. The description of a sensation, fuck, these opening lines:
Like ecstasy to the spine / A moment of lost words no memory of time / A twist from within
Like the calling of the lord / A shock a convulsion no shape or form / I'm feeling again


I don't know much about genuine addiction. I can't speak to feeling that lack of control, or that particular way of experiencing highs and lows. What I know comes from books, parallel experiences. Really I am not addicted to music, or reading, or anything; objectively I realize that. But that hint of mania -- that wide-eyed feeling that there is more to take in than your body or heart could possibly handle -- that, I understand. It is not always good, or bad, or value-based, at all. It is confusing, explosive, and you will do anything to have it again. Whether through drugs, or love, or media, or whatever your poison: it may not, should not, become a full-blown addiction, but I think (even hope?) everyone has felt the spark of one starting.

I seek you on every corner
Thought you were the devil or maybe my lover
You opened up my eyes.


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