Untitled (Regarding Yearning)

10 Jan


Untitled (Regarding Yearning)


             A lot of Conor Oberst’s early compositions dealt with lovelorn narratives, but what made them temporarily unique and gratifying for the audience was that he sprinkled in sporadic hints of a personal nature and a sentimental intent into his lyrics: ergo, the writer blatantly expounds on what he hopes a given song would accomplish – most often, his intention was to write a song so biting and beautiful that the girl he  wrote it for would either come back to him, or long for him from whatever wayward present she found herself in, or simply return his calls.          

            Unlike Cohen, he wasn’t simply melancholically considering his past and the mistakes that gamboled at that particular dais, to that waltz he sang about all over the world (before and after getting ripped off my his longtime manager), the bass line reminiscent of heads plunking down from the guillotine into the basket made of ravaged burgundy reeds; the soft shudder, breath of brandy and death, you remember, a place to lay down soon. Conor was instead trying to mitigate the situations that caused him to write, to change their circumstance after posting bail. That’s why I cared and still care about those songs. I could so easily relate to their content, and most importantly, their intended purpose. I myself have so many apparitions floating in my head that I’ve lionized and glorified with my work, my writing. Each time I hoped to create something exquisite and alluring, but also something that might make whoever I then-currently craved return.

            To force a unilateral return is a difficult prospect. Nearly impossible if Conor and I stepped outside of our artistic idealism and realized that love barely haunts most people. They have an easier time forgetting – not the people they used to share their intimacies with (I still have some characterless ex-girlfriends who still remember my birthday and send me a sprightly text message on the day), but rather the weight and significance of those intimacies at the time. They have an easier time stowing away those emotional pieces of baggage into the storage lockers of their minds that they will never, or assume to never, again revisit. They don’t rummage through that memorabilia, nostalgic and pained, with shaking fingers, drunk and dancing, moving along the area of these objects to remind them what they meant, what they were, what about them makes you seemingly need their restoration. Then comes the plaintive song, about Laura Laurent or whomever, or a bit of poetry or prose about a neurotic girl who became Lilia in a bit of honest fiction but was ironically allergic to white lilies. The truth is, she was based on Lilith and not the flower. The first woman that was ever allowed to be created complex.

            Riding the A train to work I was still stuck thinking of all this. But, I always liked the A train and it was easy to find a distraction. It was the vein of New York City. Chugging with artificial efficiency from Inwood to the flaccid geographic prick of the Rockaways. Along your trip you can see youngsters (ages 10 – 14) selling M & M’s and Welsh’s Fruit Snacks for money for their basketball team or “an honest dollar to keep off the street”, or you can see the gypsies parading their infants and playing sad folk songs with the accompaniment of an accordion, or the middle aged Dominican women who try to get you to accept the accented Jesus into your heart by yelling for repentance for twenty minutes while the seated pedestrians try to swallow their hangovers with a passing slumber, or the new school B-Boys performing for apathetic metropolitan straphangers who might squeeze out a buck or two from car to car.

            I saw a father sitting with his young daughter and I began to think about them; forcing myself to pretend a story for them, varied and human, mostly emotion amidst a lack of action, the story rarely moves forward, but always feels transitory.

            He had to force himself to be strict with his daughter. Turn the tenderness he felt into a mild coldness, because he knew how brokenhearted he would later feel when she changed, grew, turned resentful, then resilient, then completely independent of him. When she started wearing eyeliner, lipstick and a rosy blush on her happy jowls; when she started sleeping with boys, staying out late, smoking weed in the staircase or in the same park which she used to run through, giddy, to the sandbox; she would no longer be that adorable moppet with the puffy cheeks. No, she’d still be in there, somewhere, but it would be different – she would no longer smile wide-eyed at him, clasping his chest for reassurance when they took public transportation and the world seemed so large and frightening, but glowing and new, like something coming up, like running into someone you’ve never ceased to love on a subway platform and making fate out to be the capricious culprit.

            It’s damn hard always leaving or being on the return. We struggle against the constipated contrariety of time: it always either moves slowly or in haste – and we strive to either speed up the moiling moments or completely purge ourselves from consciously existing within them; otherwise when you’re accumulating the struggleless times like a collector, when everything carries meaning and plans are being made and your lover is content and she spends a Friday night and Saturday morning with you in bed, eating soup and watching dirty comedies full of thieves and femme fatales who whip their hair back in slow motion and smoke cigarettes in dive bars and maybe there’s some black and white that surrounds the color like Mickey Rourke around a rumble fish – the way I’m living, I probably only got about thirty-five summers left – then you try to bottle these times, salvage them in your mind to treasure their imagined, hope-enshrouded significance.

            They say, or at least they told me as such, that all the great mad artists had asymmetrical ears. So I always tell her to bite the drooping cartilage of my left lobe and I tell her to leave her mark.

            And I still ache all over.

            But I’m a spiteful bastard, and I’m not going to let this life kill me; not the police, the women, the booze, the past, the embittered psychoanalysis by marriage to ideology bankrupt at inception, by fatalism, by the ineptitude to move around with fervor in a world blossoming idly, by mistakes (those fucking rags!), by commotion, by emotion, by anxiety, by the cost of living, by the lazy adjustments that come too late, by transitions, by tediousness, by tenderness, by the motion, by the insolvent acknowledgment that love is only worthwhile when it hurts a bit. It’s supposed to hurt. Sting you into waking. Into enduring animation. Otherwise how the fuck are you supposed to feel a fucking thing?! Everyone needs a little stimulation. So that from haggard you can move into being prolific and make her smile with whatever artillery you have in your ordnance. If you love her, you have nothing else to do but keep trying, and maybe one day she will materialize from the nested hallucination and write the blind side of the anopisthograph that you started from a single page with a single face.


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