Thursday, October 15, 2015

Song of the Day #216 - The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

I'm staring at the asphalt wondering what's buried underneath

I fixed my iPod with my dad a few days ago... the battery had died, so I ordered a new one off ifixit (generally a pretty great site) and swapped it and now it works! It was pretty easy, all things considered. The only really finicky part is getting the case off. Last year we replaced the headphone jack. Some time in the future I'd like to get a big 1.8" SSD and swap the hard drive, I think that would be so sick... It always feels vaguely magical that you can just fix things like that, I'm skeptical all the way up until the last second, doubting my own ability to diagnose problems, always assuming that there's something supernaturally broken about it. But no! It just works!

Using it feels vaguely magical too. It had been broken for about four months, during which I used my phone, and complained basically every time... Basically just a lot of little things: the DAC is way worse, the storage is way lower, it would drain the battery, I didn't like using the interface, there was an annoying extra gap between tracks, the volume options weren't continuous enough, it would vibrate and warn me whenever I increased the volume past a certain amount... and there were fixes for basically all of these, I'm sure, but whenever I had the opportunity to look into them or y'know order a battery for my iPod I was on my computer where I have an even better setup than my iPod, so y'know y'know.

Anyways I finally did it, and because I waited so long (wow rationalization!) it's really really amazing. All those problems were solved, the amount of music available to me has like quintupled, there's so many albums that I had kinda forgotten about that I used to listen to all the time, it sounds better, everything's great, I'm so happy, etc, etc. I just lay there in bed every night listening to music. I'm not sure how long this "Honeymoon period" will last but it seems crazy that a device like this exists, and that I'm lucky enough to own one, and that I at one point even took it for granted.

It reminds me of when I first got my minidisc player, when I first was able to listen to music portably... I was like 13 I think? And some of my older cousins had just made me a mix CD, which man, I really should directly thank them for again at some point, because it really was the first taste I had of so many genres and subcultures that now are very dear to my heart. I feel like I can remember almost every song on it - most of them, if I hear them now, are almost painfully nostalgic.

This one was on it. I was never a huge Death Cab fan but Give Up is my favorite album in this "mode" (basically Gibbard stuff, and then people who were ripping him off, and then people who were ripping off Owl City like 15 years later). "Natural Anthem" I think is actually the album's masterpiece, and I recognize the landmark status and quality of big hits "We Will Become Silhouettes" and "Such Great Heights" (which, even if you've never heard of this band before, I can almost guarantee you will recognize), but this will forever be my favorite.

There's such a resonant melancholy to it, to the images it depicts... like, it's about a breakup, it paints a clear story in no uncertain terms, and does an amazing job at that - "I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving" is a brutal closer. But so many aspects to how this story is told are super universal... "I'm staring at the asphalt wondering what's buried underneath" is one that has always stuck with me; even now I find myself thinking about it when I look at the street in the right mood. Even as a kid, having not gone through a breakup or anything like that, I found this to be an incredibly powerful song.

I can't really overstate it... I can really clearly remember lying in bed one night listening to it, and thinking about the words and the images, and then just being overwhelmed by how mindblowingly fresh and beautiful the music was to me (keep in mind that all I really listened to before this point was dadrock), and thinking "OK, this music thing is a big deal." I can remember one time before that, in class, prolly like Grade 4, when I got talking to someone about music and we both knew all the big dadrock names, and they said something about oh you're into music? (I think specifically she asked if I was a "music thumper", which was popular slang in my grade school for some reason). And I said oh sure but inside I felt strange, because really I just listened to what my dad listened to, and I hadn't realized yet that he had an above-average knowledge and interest in music (I feel like I still haven't realized the full extent of this, what a great dad). And I felt sorta fraud cause I knew that to whatever extent I was knowledgeable and interested in music, it was entirely due to my dad. But the very idea that someone could be "into" music was new to me, I think, and interesting.

But it wasn't until that night I lay there listening to this track that I really believed it. I probably believed it too hard, and there was a period in high school where I was really elitist and insufferable about music with every chance I got, but I think I'm mostly over that now, and I still love music, and I still want to be "into music" with as much passion and effort as I can be, and thus here we are writing this blog post.

No comments: