Monday, April 21, 2014

All My Soldiers Are Painted

I didn't know what to write about today so David pushed me to write about a band that has had a great influence on us individually and as a couple.

I didn't know Pavement existed before I met David, but it wasn't long after we met that I started listening to their music regularly. "Gold Soundz" is the first song I remember loving. Then it was "Grounded" and "Painted Soldiers." It was unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Stephen Malkmus' talk-y singing and high-pitched voice both attracted me and bothered me, right off the bat. (Mirroring my feelings for David - ha!) There was so much comfort in the music, in addition to the pain, and humor, and confusion. The college years were a lot of those feelings for me, as I'm sure it was for everyone.

During our first year of dating, we stumbled upon "Love Is a Mixtape," a book by well-known journalist-turned-music reviewer Rob Sheffield. It is a memoir of his early life and the two great loves of his life: music and his late wife. Their love was so authentic and tangible, and music was the thread that tied them together. As it was the 80s and 90s when they met, they would make mix tapes for one another, with hits from their wonky mainstream or indie favorites, including Pavement, that communicated their love and fear. Before David even asked me out (the first time), he began making me mix CDs. It was his thing for a while. I can still remember every track on the mix he made me before I left for France for the summer in 2007. We had only been dating a few months when I left so you can imagine it was all very dramatic. David has never been a super Mr. Romantic but music has always been his love letter to me. And reading how it was the same for another couple was so soothing. We were obsessed. We shared it with all of our friends, who in turn became equally obsessed. We read it over and over. The book only made my love for the band grow.

Now, after seven years together, whenever I heard a Pavement song, I immediately think of David and feel like someone is squeezing my heart so hard it might burst. I wouldn't name it as my favorite band necessarily, but it just might be the record collection I'd bring with me if I was going to be an island castaway. It's the perfect soundtrack for the haphazard and absurd nature of life itself.

The songs are all over the place, erratic and full of emotion, at once impossible to get through and also something you just can't turn off - the lyrics and melodies lingering in your head long after the music has faded. That weird comfort you can't live without.


Blind date with the chancer
We had oysters and dry lancers
When the check arrived we went dutch, dutch, dutch, dutch
A redder shade of neck on a whiter shade of trash
And this emory board is giving me a rash
I'm flat out
You're so beautiful to look at when you cry
Freeze, don't move
You've been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation
Of the sequel to your life.

A shady lane -- everybody wants one
A shady lane -- everybody needs one
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god
Oh my god, oh your god, oh his god, over god
It's everybody's god, it's everybodys god, it's everybodys god, it's
Everybody's god
The worlds collide, but all that we want is a shady lane

-"Shady Lane," Stephen Malkmus



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