10 June, 2009

Yes, I've had sex to a Sonic Youth record.

Yesterday, I know I said I was going to get rid of some Sonic Youth. When going through the Sonic Youth records I still have, I find I have only two LPs, actually. One is the excellent Sister, released in 1987, a year before "landmark" Daydream Nation, (which, y'know, never grabbed me). The second one is Goo, released in 1990, easily part of the "How do we top that?" Daydream Nation hangover.
Sonic Youth - Goo
Pictured: When I used to have sex with a rockabilly hipster.
Goo never grabbed me all the way, but (here we go) when I was dating (oh, Jesus) Angie (there it is), she got into Sonic Youth a little bit after watching 1991: The Year Punk Broke (and I'm not linking any of these today, kids, because you should be familiar with this material). For her birthday, or maybe it was one of those cutesy "just because" deals, I went out and bought her a Sonic Youth record. I was going to start with Sister but Jim at Madhatter nixed that idea and suggested I pick up Goo. In terms of my musical tastes, this is the only time Jim was ever wrong but we won't count that since it was a gift for a girlfriend. In terms of Angie's taste, he nailed it fairly well. But I never got into that record.
Alas, when you date somebody for two and a half years and live with them for the last year and a half of that, you tend to get used to certain elements of their lifestyle intermingling with yours. There were three records that Angie put on while she slept: Calexico's The Blacklight*, Portishead's Live in NYC, and Sonic Youth's Goo; needless to say, I got used to these being the sounds of slumber*. So while in that post-breakup limbo of trying to find healthy methods to moving on with my life, I tracked down these records meaning that actually I was failing to move on but it got me active. You take the good with the bad.
Now I actually listened to Goo without Angie around and realized that there were only two songs on it I like, "Dirty Boots" and "Mote". The rest of it I could do without and if there were something else on that record that I dug, I dug it but it was forgettable. I liked only those two songs but I couldn't get rid of that record because of an emotional connection to that record, you dig?
Yesterday I never 100% got around to even looking at my Sonic Youth records (a euphemism for "I didn't do it until this morning") but surprised was I to find that I had only two LPs. So infrequently do I ever turn to Sonic Youth that I didn't even remember which records I had. At any rate, staring at me was Goo. Granted it's been three years since Angie and I split but I still can not bring myself to ditch this record. I have no good or bad memories attached to it anymore, just the idea of memories. The idea of being twenty three and having your girlfriend in your arms post-coitus on a humid, raining Summer night, that's more of a concept now than a memory and it's a bankrupt concept at that; we see it in Hollywood all the time.
That's kind of what it amounts to: that record, for me anyway, is the soundtrack to that scene in the mind's cinema. I am only half there in my mind and the woman in this scene is fairly interchangeable. Perhaps she's not "the original cast member" because of the pain I associate with her, perhaps only because time progressed. At any rate, this is the image that comes to mind when that record comes on.
This past Winter, when I went to go see the hairdresser's band, Nick/Nate/"N"-name of some sort from IPR was running sound and between bands he put on Goo, skipping the first song, "Dirty Boots", and going right for the second one, "Tunic (Song For Karen)". It took me a minute to place it, but then it clicked: This is Goo.
Briefly, ever so briefly, I was transported from in the middle of a crowd of rockabilly hipster girls non-plussed by the noise-rock duo that had opened at The Red Sea during a harsh Minneapolis January to the body of a lover fast asleep in my arms in a bedroom during a humid Bowling Green Summer. Briefly, all so very briefly, like I was Billy Pilgrim, becoming unstuck in time and you'd never notice it because time moved linearly for you.
And in that brief moment I felt nothing.
I witnessed in that flash instant the bedroom, dimly lit, the sheets dampened with coital sweat pushed down to our waists, and Goo playing gently from the tiny bedside stereo. The moment hung briefly as the record transitioned from "Tunic" to "Kool Thing", the way a cloud settles into a fog and then dissipates. The perception was never skewed, emotions remained unfelt, and the mind's cinema played the film for only a fraction of a second. Reality was never left. I felt nothing.
But now I'm looking at this record and I'm wondering what to do with it. I mean I really don't like it and the last time I heard it, the emotional attachment I had to it yielded nonexistent returns. I'm never going to "unhear" this record but I never turn to it for any reason. It serves not as a reminder of bad times, it serves not as a reminder of happy times. I guess that, as it exists unto itself and not how it exists in relation to my past, it's just not a really good record. Fuck it, it's gone.

* I charged Angie Calexico's The Blacklight as asshole tax when we split up since it was also the sound of "teh luv makins" and I was going to be damned if I'd let her seduce some other asshole to that record. I earned that record.

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