learning love songs

est. 2008


June 2012


I remember driving into work last summer, listening to this song and thinking “Why the hell I am I still here?”

That was three jobs and hundreds of miles ago. I may have found a way to change my circumstances, but oh how I miss my friends.

I’ve talked to some on the phone, some I haven’t. These are people I’ve known for more than half my life.

I would just like to tell them I’m doing OK and I miss them. Oh well. Time to go to work.

I’ve spent twenty-two years just wading through bullshit
And hey, it’s worked so far,
I don’t know why I’m here,
But I know who my friends are

So everyone moved in with their girlfriends,
In one-bedroom apartments,
In the town that we grew up in and,
All my friends are in bar bands,

I don’t know how it happened,
I hope it pays the rent,
And still there’s some days
when I don’t think that we’ll ever see Dave again

‘I’m not sad anymore,
I’m just tired of this place,
And if this year would just end,
I think we’d all be OK'”

~All My Friends Are In Bar Bands
The Wonder Years, The Upsides


“All that I know is I’m breathing now.” 
~Keep Breathing 
Ingrid Michaelson, Girls and Boys

It’s never the end of the world. And it’s never as big of a deal as it seems. And you’re probably much better off than you could even figure out, but it’s hard to trust what you don’t know, and with that as a foundation, everything shakes.

The spur-of-the-moment decisions, the leaps of faith you take when it’s kill-or-be-killed…there’s no easy way out sometimes. Consequence is inevitable.

So choose, keep breathing, carry on.


Something needs to slow down.  I don’t know what, but something. Probably my own head.

I’m always rushing through the rapids, springing from a rock to the next on tiptoes fueled by careful aim. Nothing but that and dumb luck keeping me from getting splashed, and the slightest drop floods me with doubt and defeat.

“We’ll correct collegiate mistakes,
A shower of formal ideals,
Completely soused, 

The hearts on our sleeves,
As they drowned we could hear them screaming,
‘Oh what a tragic way to see our final days.’

I attempt to talk up the town,
‘The answers are in the arches of the 20th Century Towers and in
comfortable cars in motion.'”

So. Tired. Today was a good example. Everyone running around, questions in hand, and I literally cannot string two coherent words together. It’s like my limbs feel too long and awkward, and I woke up with a reach I had no idea how to control. Fumbling, I’m five to five hundred steps behind everyone, and I’m furious for failing at what exactly I cannot say.

I have to believe that it’s all this way for a reason, that I got here by aid of something more tangible than chance. But lying awake, alone for miles, how is that any comfort when I feel like a sympathy case, or worse a coward?

Although, I could make one hell of a sad mix CD back in the day. Surely, that counts for something.

“And yet it still remains, this incessant refrain:
‘You’re just like the rest. Your restlessness
makes you lazy.’

Keeping busy is just wasting time
And I’ve wasted what little he gave me.
All Around
I know the conscious choice was
Crystal clear,
To clean the slate of former years,
When I sang softly in your ear
And tied these arms around you.”

~20th Century Towers
Death Cab for Cutie, The Stability EP


Homesickness reached out and grabbed my throat when shuffle pulled this up yesterday:

“Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to Miami Beach
Or to Hollywood
But I’m talking a Greyhound
On the Hudson River Line
I’m in a New York state of mind

I’ve seen all the movie stars
In their fancy cars and their limousines
Been high in the Rockies under the evergreens
But I know what I’m needing
And I don’t want to waste more time
I’m in a New York state of mind

It was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, The Daily News

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me ’cause I’ve let it slide
Don’t care if it’s Chinatown or on Riverside
I don’t have any reasons
I’ve left them all behind

I’m in a New York state of mind
~New York State of Mind
Billy Joel, Turnstiles

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Billy Joel songs. I’ve been listening to “Glass Houses” on vinyl for the last day or so, which I hadn’t heard in its entirely before. “Turnstiles” though, I listened to a lot as a kid. My sax-playing jazz musician uncle gave my mom a few CDs when we got our first player way back in the day, one of which was  the 1976 classic on the people, places and memories of NYC. Must find it on vinyl.

I miss New York. All of it, from end to end, the land, the water and the skies and the buildings new and old. I miss Rochester, most of all. And I miss the city, I miss the Finger Lakes, I miss driving down and up 490/590 from the canal and up to the lake, and crossing the new-ish bridge spanning the Genesee. I remember watching that bridge being built, wondering how on earth giant pillars of cement could find a steady foundation in the rushing current.

Am I mixing up emotions here, saying I miss a state when really I miss a moment in time? Pennsylvania’s terrain isn’t really all that different, and wandering along the Susquehanna proves a far more scenic hike than anything Monroe County has to offer.

I guess I’m just mourning the loss of an old home, while blindly stumbling into a new one.

Also, per the video: How cool is it that he plays that amazing 45-second-long intro with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? Not cool in a chemicals-will-kill-you-way, but cool in a rockstar way. There’s a style to these things, after all.


Something about 12-hour days ending with hot, sticky summer nights makes me want to hear this song over and over again.

The lush and steady rhythm guitar part reminds me of thick, heavy trees in the dark; that slide after the chorus reminds me of driving down the lake to that hard-to-find-in-the-night cabin; the words make me wish I was holding someone’s hand who understood the meaning the same way I do.

We’re all tired, worn, beat, afraid of one thing or another. It’s not easy to “make it” these days, even in the eyes of yourself, much less the world. The former, to me, is the much  more important standard, when it comes to what matters.

But it’s hard to walk by a row of mirrored windows without glancing at yourself at least once.

For whatever reason, I am beating myself up less tonight than normal, and failing to fight the tired. Instead, I listen, drink and dream. It’s true, I am this sentimental. At the least, I’ve stopped apologizing for it. At the most, it’s making all the difference.

If only it wasn’t so often interpreted as weakness.

“Oh this earthquake is shaking our hands
Free at the wrists just as we started a dance
The hardest thing next to diamond rings
Is the coats we have to wear just to make ends meet
I got this year and fifty more to beat
It’s enough to make you give up, she says

I know, I know, I know…so let go

As we sleep in this broken Cadillac
We watch the world leave

It doesn’t look back
I gotta say that, when my heart attacks
Don’t return it, it will fire right back
So let’s just lie here as they paint us black

The nervous ticks only the holy get
The country treats as the cities get sick
The lunatics and the Harlem tricks
The country treats as we all get sick…”

~American Low

Cassino, Sounds of Salvation


“The sun lays low on a solemn city
All I see is sexual red
The last rays burst through between the train cars
And shine directly on my head

So come and find me in this moment
And expose a passionate man for what he is

We’ll cut loose our gold
Cause we need fire
And only kindling can buy it
Wildness is our treasure
So boldly surrender
To me and to the night

On the lash
And lashing out
It’s evil’s sway tonight

A candle’s pulse is no companion
When all you see is sexual red
You burn away your dreams inside a journal
And leave those primal words unsaid

I’ll run to find you in this moment
And expose a passionate woman for what she is

We’ll cut loose our gold
Cause we need fire
And only kindling can buy it
Wildness is our treasure
So boldly surrender
To me and to the night

On the lash
And lashing out
It’s evil’s sway tonight”

~Evil’s Sway 
Japandroids, Celebration Rock

Doesn’t this song just make you want to live faster? Make you want to give in to temptations hidden somewhere deep in your ribs? Tough, thrashing, raw, everything about this song screams wild, yet stings of vulnerability.

So tired of realizing, oh, yes, everyone *is* a coward. In fact, the only man I ever loved who proved to me that he could stand up for what he believed in, is written off by the world.

What does that tell you about our society’s priorities, and the insecure paranoia of the weak to control?

I may be insecure, and paranoid, but I’m not weak. You don’t have to know me well to see that.

I know better than to mistake vulnerable for weak, and yet the world remains guarded. But I’ve learned to know better than interpret rebellious moments as conviction, so I say take it where you can get it.

Sidenote: I read some archives on this blog over the weekend. Nine times out of 10 in 2008-2009 I wrote about nonsense, but every now and then, I surprised myself. Then again, 2010-2012 has had a fair share of nonsense, too.


The song just stills my heart. It freezes me. Puts me in a moment I remember somewhere back in my mind beyond the to-do lists and present paranoias, past the judgement and despisement…somewhere where love and safety and happiness were synonymous, somewhere where I never thought I would be.

I do not think that is a feeling that you duplicate. I am not holding out much hope. But I suppose that’s why sad songs are good for the soul. It means maybe something else is out there.

“Desire has known us well
Living dreams is living hell but
They brought us through the times

I wanna light myself on fire

I spent thirty years not knowing you
I can’t afford to waste more time
Running ’round the world
When all I know is you’re my girl”
Lovedrug, Wild Blood


When you start yelling at the computer about bad headlines on local broadcast websites, you know you’re overtired.

This is when “Your Favorite Weapon” comes in handy, during that minute when you need to curse loudly at the world and most everyone in it. When you have to roll your shoulders back, hold your head like royalty, and go about doing your own thing.

” Call 911.
I’m already dead but someone should be caught
and held responsible for this bloody mess.

Call homicide. Take the case to court.
Her lips taste like a loaded gun

and I’m her number one chalk outline on the floor.”

~Sudden Death in Carolina
Brand New, Your Favorite Weapon


Very good music journalism on Fiona Apple.

“She read about whipping cords, which are used to bind and repair frayed ropes, in ‘this book about boating that was at my last boyfriend’s house.’ The idea is less about avoiding mistakes than learning how to cope with them. ‘You’re gonna get punched and blown around,’ she says. She looks over my shoulder into the empty restaurant, tries to figure out how to express what she wants to express. ‘What’s valuable is to know how to make something out of that.’ Apple has had a lot of years to learn.”
Good. Journalism. Music. Very. Words, sentences, phrasing, style, headexplodes.

I just want to feel like I’m saying something meaningful, something beautiful. Maybe not now, but someday. Otherwise, what the hell am I doing here?

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