from hell's heart I stab at thee, thou foul beast of a PhD
Providing the great beast doesn't drag me to Davey's locker, I will return to the Compost Heap before too long. I will be a changed man because I will be rid of the huge blank monster that has rolled ahead of all my thoughts over the past four years, sometimes at a great distance, sometimes right up close, but always there. When I return, I intend to write here more, to review live shows again, and hopefully contribute to other publications too.
In the meantime, I leave you with the gift of a few of my favourite life-affirming songs. The sort of songs that have, at various points in my university career found me dropping text books books like hot turds, scissor kicking things off desks, and opening windows to let in the thick possibility of Autumn nights before throwing on a scarf to catch a last-minute in gig Whelans, or in more reflective moments, opening atlases and dreaming of those two elusive years when Canada was my home from home.
MP3: Guided By Voices-Dayton Ohio 19 something circa 05
One of Bob Pollard's most direct lyrics. It's a loose, chugging celebration of smoking dope and grilling food with the boys in some idyllic but downtrodden place. It's where it's "great to exist/ where the produce maybe rotten/ but nobody is forgotten", and where for that smell of "fried food and pure hot tar/ you'd travel far/ to feel completely alive/ on Strawberry Philidelphia Drive". Awww cripes, I know it's probably a kip, but I'd kick back with you there for a whole summer uncle Bob.
MP3: The Microphones-I Felt My Size
This is a beautiful, transcendental turning point in Phil Elvrum's towering opus 'The Glow Pt. II'. Stepping out of a cave, our protagonist watches dawn crawling over the hills, traffic flying over a freeway and, quite contently (I think), he feels his size. He realizes he's small - like the rest of us.
Oh, and those who like Neutral Milk Hotel's contemplative 'In the Airplane over the Sea' yet don't own this record, owe it to themselves to find it immediately. It's essential - a similarly puzzling rug woven from tangled plaits of the both the raw fibres of one man's mystic awareness and those of universal truths.
MP3: The Thermals-I let it Go
There is a cathartic moment toward the end of this instant classic from the Thermals where love, life, fear and the whole lot are packed into a huge emo-punk-pop-rock ball which chases Mr Thermal toward the edge of the metaphorical cliff. Then, being the seize-the-moment fucker that he is, he looks his fear in the eye and leaps...
MP3: The Olivia Tremor Control-A peculiar noise called 'Train Director'
Fuck knows what this one is about. But I admire the fact that the Olivia Tremor Control sing from some psychedelic rag and bone shop of the soul, where the soundtrack is full of unruly elephant noises and "in the blink of an eye you get several meanings". I watched my twin brother playing the 'I am the Walrus' section of Beatles Rock Band the other day. He seemed to temporarily escape to that place too.
MP3: Of Montreal-A sentence of sorts in Kongsvinger
Like Mr Barnes in his self-imposed exile, and like many PhD students with extra-curricular interests, I found myself questioning my character long and hard throughout the process. Being ferociously introspective I've had dark times and doubtful nights, both due to the research and for other reasons too.
In light of these things, I've loved this song hard, perhaps more than any other I've put up here, and almost as much as my all-time favourite, Wichita Lineman. It's the sound of an introspective person dealing with their failings head-on, but in the context of an album from which they ultimately emerge changed for the better. That means so much to me. Thank you Kevin Barnes.
Thanks too people, for all the comments left here over the years. This blog has proven a valuable distraction from the trials and tribulations of a process that has probably had far more troughs than peaks for me. See you all soon.