Thursday, March 21, 2013

Every Night I Ask Myself...

Local Natives played in Chicago tonight. I was originally planning to go, but that didn't work out.

Maybe it's for the best.

I’ve been listening to their new album repeatedly since it was released, so much so that it’s become deeply personal, and almost representative of these last few months of my life, strange as that may sound. And since most of that listening has been through my ear buds, riding the train and walking to work, it’s also become an album that for me, speaks specifically to my solitude as well. It's how I feel bundled up against the harsh Chicago winter wind. It's how I feel, being alone with my thoughts as I walk to work in the mornings.

I know that if I start playing Hummingbird, the new album, right as I step out the door on the way to work, by the time I get to the elevators at my office building, the last song, "Bowery," will have just started. I know this, because I've been doing it at least once a week for the last two months.

One day, one of the first days, "Breakers" came on and I was so excited, I couldn't stop grinning as I stood, alone on the crowded train.

One day, one of the worst days, I listened to "You & I" and pressed my cheek against the cold train window. I didn't realize I was crying until I caught a woman staring at me, with that specific, kind sense of worry in her eyes that nice people give strangers they see crying in public. So I decided to just keep crying, because I needed to cry and because the songs were asking all my questions for me.

"When did your love, when did your love grow cold? The closer I get, the farther I have to fall..."

It’s funny how I can love an album so much when it makes me feel so deeply sad. But perhaps sad isn’t the right word. The album also makes me really damn happy. (I swear.)

But there's something about these songs. I feel it in almost every one. A yearning for something. Another fan said to me: "It's definitely a breakup album."

Maybe. But it's so much more than that. It makes me feel a yearning for so many things—things that I know I can't have, and things I didn't even realize I missed or wanted until that moment I hear it through the song. Either way, it's a feeling of wanting, of needing, something that seems just out of reach. But maybe if we keep listening, we'll get there.


The song "Colombia" begins with a slow, steady piano, and the words:

"The day after I had counted down all of your breaths down until
There were none, were none, were none, were none;
A hummingbird crashed right in front of me and I understood all you did for us."

From my first listen, I knew immediately what it was about.

I wanted to be wrong. But I wasn't. It's a song for vocalist Kelcey Ayers' mother, who passed away in 2012, and as the song builds, and builds, I'll be damned if you can't feel every ounce of his loss come through every plea.

"Ohhh, every night I ask myself
Am I loving enough?

Am I loving enough?

Patricia, every night I'll ask myself
Am I giving enough?
Am I?"

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to this song. I can't tell you how many times I ask myself those same questions.


The Saturday morning the tickets went on sale, we’d been out late at another show the night before. But we were serious about getting these tickets. He'd set an alarm on his phone to make sure to buy our tickets as soon as they went on sale. When the alarm went off at 10 am, he got out of bed, grabbed his laptop and carried it over, and bought us our tickets from bed.

A little bit later we walked to get breakfast, and the sun was shining. It was bright, too bright for how cold it really was. Our fingers were interlocked together but we were a million miles apart.

Across the booth from him at the diner, I gripped my coffee mug and looked down, and then up at him, trying to read his eyes. He smiled at me, but his eyes didn’t. I had a feeling, then, that maybe we weren't actually going to go see Local Natives together in March.

Because his eyes said everything that I knew he wasn't going to say. Or at least wasn't going to say again, not when the sun was so goddamn bright and it was so cold outside and all I could taste was the coffee on my tongue.

Later that day, I played "Heavy Feet" as I walked down the street away from his place, and to the train.

"After everything, after everything/left in the sun shivering"

The album comes to a close with "Bowery," which is perfect. ("Can't tell if the ceiling is rising or if the floor is falling down.")

I'm sure Local Natives put on a beautiful performance tonight. But I'm okay, right here.

"At the time I wasn't with you

At the time I didn't care."

No comments:

Post a Comment