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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
"I'm Going Away" by the Fiery Furnaces: The Official Album of Summer 2009
I walk around listening to the Beatles, and I think of what their songs mean about my life.
I walk around listening to the Kinks, and I think of my life, and it makes their songs mean something huge.
I walk around listening to the Fiery Furnaces, and I think about absolutely nothing.
The Fiery Furnaces are my third-favourite band of all time.
Back in May, before I'm Going Away came out, The Fiery Furnaces solicited what they called "Deaf Descriptions" from their fans, asking us to submit opinions on how we thought the unheard songs would sound, based only on their titles. I wrote some. They were pretty good.
It is now September. I have spent a lot of time with this album. If I'm going to be a Beatles writer and a Kinks writer, it's only natural that I let myself be a Fiery Furnaces writer, too.
Here are my un-Deaf Descriptions of I'm Going Away.
I. CUPS & PUNCHES
If Life Were A Beatles Song: "It's All Too Much"
If there is one thing that has changed about me this summer, it's the way I write. Not the way the words are (though that too), but the way I get them written. It used to be exhausting; if I wasn't indulging the hysteria, guilt would gnaw at me. Now, it's the simplest thing. The goal is to see how slow I can get it; "controlled-ness" is implicit. There is no "good," only "sweet." And, if you learn to care about "weird"- nothing can ever be bad.
My first word was book. I know every single second of my life, because I wrote it down. And there has been music playing all the while. It's my collaborator.
Once, there was this girl...
It was the day Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came out and Patti Smith and her friends listened to it over and over on a car radio all night long. I'm Going Away by the Fiery Furnaces. I listened to it for a whole week straight. I'd leave social engagements early so I could walk home to it. "Cups & Punches" hit me hardest, and first. It makes me think of word-orders like: Banana Berry Glee. Glazed Dunkin Elation. Bampu bada bom.
"It's like I just got a new Revolver!" I yelled, for blocks. "It's perfect! It's pink! And purple! It's pink & purple! It's so fizzy! It's carbonated! It's, like, dessert! And punch! It's so feminine! It's for girls! It's, for, wow, like, me! "
I was walking down the street, past the church with the funny slogans, and a handful of lucky pennies rained down on me. Literally! It sounds like a metaphor, but it really happened!
I tried to Twitter it, but Twitter was broken that day.
The only magic I care for is the one that permits music to be carbonated. It's 1963. In Lethbridge, Alberta, a kid who'll never care about the Beatles goes out to a tavern with some friends. The beer on tap is so flat and tasteless that they have to put salt in it, to make it fizz.
II. LOST AT SEA
She sat up in bed, and the devil was in her.
I've never seen so many sunrises in a single season. I hate sleeping. It's boring and I'm scared of it. "If I sleep too long, I'm afraid I'll die." I wish I could've had Lost At Sea when I was Lost At Sea, but life's too hilarious for such synchroneity. You only get "Lost At Sea" if you don't need it. Ha!
I am somebody from the Internet you've never met and don't know. My face is scrubbed clean, it just was.
Sour Mash & Hot Knives. The morning is striking; the sky's a shrieker. Such an electric way to be blue, like the ocean in pictures of Australia, of "Bondi Beach." The patio was daunting but I made it. No notebook; great penmanship. There's no consistency in how the sky will look at a given Six. Sometimes the lion Sun roars itself across the air it overshadows, in dresses-pink. Sometimes it's navy, or Rear Windowy butterscotch. This morning, it was gauzy periwinkle. If you had touched it, it would have been a pussywillow or the inside of a dog's ear. I regret not.
My desk chair is beginning to break, the tweedy grey is peeling away. Two Firefox tabs are open. In one, I am watching clips of a television program from 1963, a pilot starring Jan & Dean, which never made it to TV. One of them (Jan, or Dean) is more attractive than the other. A Hawaiian teenager is telling us about the history of surfing. It originated in Hawaii. Now there is footage of surfers surfing, it has nothing to do with Jan & Dean. I can see why this TV show failed. It's boring. I go to the other tab. I click mindlessly through a cache of images of Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits. He is seventeen. He's beautiful. Girls thought he was "Herman."
Bedroom hara-kiri; this place where anything goes. Turn the fan on to make it more freezing, to make sense for more blankets. Did I mention the patio was daunting but I made it? The sky is complacent; "unhumiliatable." The sun rises in a Sign somewhere, but the sky just sits there, it's allowed to. Ensconcing every moment of our lives in blue, white, pink, however. I don't like the Sun but I am like the Sun. When you think of the sky, you see: everything else pales.
III. CUT THE CAKE
For Birthday Dinner I had psychedelic mushrooms and pink grapefruit juice. We tried to go for Thai food, but it was too beautiful to eat: how the peach of mango sauce swirled like daydreams into coconut cream, it was also funny. Being at the restaurant was agitating. We packed our food into Styrofoam boxes and placed them carefully on the curb, for raccoons. There is no sky, we thought, incorrectly. There is definitely the sky.
Smiley outside Hilary's Farmacia he went off. I had on a grey t-shirt and my iPod shuffle. I decided I was going to listen to a song by John Lennon, one by Paul McCartney, one by the Kinks, and one by Friedberger- my dudes!
"Happiness is a Warm Gun" sounded negative, and nasty. I didn't like it. "Mother Nature's Son" was awesome, but sounded like it was trying too hard to replicate exactly how I was feeling right now, and was missing the mark and the point and it was "Too Florid," I thought.
God I love Ray Davies. I thought something along the lines of, "What a fabulous sweetheart!" It bummed me out not to be able to give him a hug right now. I remarked, "He really puts on an exaggerated British accent!"
This was the song by the Fiery Furnaces that it played me. It was comforting because it was contemporary. They know what iPods are! And stuff. It was cake on my birthday, and I heard "I wrote a letter to the editor to give praise and a mention to the names they forgot," and thought, "What a nice thing to do!" and, smiley,
"These are really decent people," I thought. Eleanor Friedberger is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life.
Charmaine Champagne of "Cups and Punches" and "Charmaine Champagne" by the Fiery Furnaces is the "Girl from "Girl" by the Beatles of 2009." I am always very interested to check out how my dudes will write about women, because I want to not hate my own dudes. The best Beatles girls are when John is writing about Yoko or pre-Yoko idea-of-Yoko. Ray Davies writes about dudes in disguise. Matt Friedberger barely ever writes about girls, except their names, but when he does- they're babes. His baby with the stick stuck out her beak & the blue-green sweater- Great. The blonde lady with a certain hold on him- Cool. Violet violet; jet-black-hair. Love is blind, sometimes.
"Charmaine Champagne" isn't a love song, it's just a song about a cool girl they met somewhere. She's neat. At first, I thought she was the one asking "Can anybody turn me on?", which struck me as kind of slutty, but then I realized: she is the one warning him against the others who''ll do it! Which is noble and more my style and I respect it. I want to stand in front of a jukebox with Charmaine Champagne and argue over what its squarest song is. What a skill! Charmaine Champagne is skill, skill, skill.
There is only one girl from any song who I'd rather be than Charmaine Champagne, which is the one who was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually shot her down, but still she danced, in the night, unafraid, of what a dude'll-y do-
If you look up Bitter Tea on Wikipedia, it translates all the backmasking for you.
If there are two things that have changed about me, there are a million. How is there always more to learn?
This August, I choreographed a really involved dance routine to "Holiday Romance" by the Kinks. It was one of the crowning accomplishments of my entire summer.
Before that day, I spent my whole life running toward what I knew I was living my whole life running toward. I sat on the side of my bed with my elbows on my knees, and I knew that this- even this- would nowhere near be the best of it.
I ran around. Why did I run? Running makes life so short. Jenny finished up at the Hare Krishna festival. Steve came home. My glasses fell off the back of my head. It was time to go to the bar, so I changed out of my lovely sundress, and into a t-shirt and jeans. All moments were as twinkling and elated as the part I love from "The End Is Near," 1:44 to 2:05, which I believe every girl and boy should first-kiss to.
Then, the dust settled. I pulled up my jeans, repositioned the rug beneath my feet. The way ballet flats form to the shape of them.
A lesson learned? There is a really cool alternative to running. It's called, "walking."
VI. TAKE ME ROUND AGAIN
You'll write the sentence, "She swatted a fly and killed it in her hand. I was quiet and lazy."
Articles I Never Wrote, Summer 2009: A thousand reviews of I'm Going Away by the Fiery Furnaces; 700 billion Beatles things; "The Ups & Downs of the Black & White": Imagine by John Lennon, by Laura Jane; HOW TO LIVE: Laura Jane's Twelve Steps Toward Functional Alcoholism; Walking Down the Street to Blueberry Boat, Their Satanic Majesties' Request, Comic Strip and Paranoid; something about Panda Bread; "Sanskrit on the Greyhound" (ALBUM CUT); All-Time Top 5: Sexiest Britpoppers; an essay about Toronto; All-Time Top 5: Foods I'd Break Veganism For (HAHAH!); this really involved week-long eating diary that was ultimately SO POINTLESS; HOW TO LIVE: "On Being Bad," the Laura Jane Guide to Softcore Self-Destruction; HOW TO DRESS YOURSELF: "The Sexy Hoody Look"; RIP DJ AM; "Laura Jane Eats An Onion As If It Were An Apple"; Jan & Dean as Style Icons; Laura Jane Investigates: How Would I Look With An 'Old Lady Perm'?; Laura Jane Investigates: Yoga; Laura Jane's Addiction: Watching Suri Cruise Age Before My Very Eyes; "Last Night of Our Relationship at Marienbad" (Actually, I still might write that one)
Amount of Times nogoodforme Readers Told Me I Was Their Matthew Friedberger, Summer 2009: Four (4)
VII. I'M GOING AWAY
On the afternoon of the morning I got my Kinks tattoo, I didn't listen to Muswell Hillbillies. I am not that silly, overwrought type of person. Instead, I listened to Blueberry Boat by the Fiery Furnaces, the only album I deemed weird enough to match my then-delirium. I never made it to Strawberry Fields, but I drank Strawberry Lemonade, at least- it was good.
I ripped off my dumb bandage to the twitchy-eyed guitars of "Straight Street." I tried to strut, but only stumbled. I tripped, and braced my lanky fall with the palms of my hands. I was so out of it. I called myself "GIMP!!!" in my head, and laughed- guffawed, actually- sincerely, out loud. I was disassociating.
Nobody saw, except one young boy. His shoelaces were an interesting colour. I wanted to give him money. I will always remember the curvature chip of his Gerber baby bottom lip, and I will consecrate that boy forever. For being the only one there alongside me on that special day of mine. I begged Please to nix or naught, that maybe, for him- that every girl, will never be me.
The Kinks, "Strangers"-
We're the Davies brothers. You're Ray, and I'm Dave.
"We are the Village Green Preservation Society?" you wrote.
I walked through squeaky kid-March, sadistic, sybaritic, listening to the saddest Kinks songs, thinking of you. That and singly that, is what pulled me through. Never getting well meant I would never get to be a writer- which was scary enough in its own right- but also it meant you would never get to be my Neil Aspinall, and I couldn't stand to think of myself as the person who would do that to you. We are good people, for each other. We are good people.
I keep you warm, and you keep me sane. Knowing that I am what I am for you means more to me than almost anything. We've worked really hard to get here, nixed our bad behaviors- why is it so much harder for us? It paid off; I love you like guitars-
That morning at that place, where "I would, like, get married!" & I ate the second-best croissant of Cats on Holiday, and we drank coffee out of Mason jars, and laughed so hard over that thing we laughed so hard over. It made everything worthwhile. I don't know how you do it!
You have given me so much of what is now my everything. I'm sorry I stole your man.
VIII. DRIVE TO DALLAS
I was on the Greyhound bus home from New York City. I had been craving its coarse August heat, and all my wish(es)'d came exactly true. Greyhound red-eyes are a pleasure; I like American rest stops- I like Hess lighters- and always sleep best in places where other people can't.
I have a Greyhound "Trick", which isn't really a trick, because it never works- I steal a two-seater to myself, put a pillow behind my head, position my backpack beneath my knees, and then stretch out with headphones and feign that I am asleep. Forestalling lazy travellers with the annoyingness of my showstopper body. But usually they punish me for being such an insolent little princess; cough passive-aggressively, stare and sit and like sass me on top of it too.
I was doing that when a no-duhsville junkie mother who had been cringe-inducingly screaming about Syracuse in line came aboard with her young daughter. Her in-between breaths whistled, and she was screaming about what the Hell for us all being such assholes not to let her sit with her child...
I gave them my seat, and moved across the way. At first sight, I fell deeply in love with the daughter; I named her Sanskrit in my head (really cutesy-cool I know, but it was just right), she looked like clover honey and had a sexy Mick Jagger mouth that I wished the best for. I feel as though it is my duty to save and seduce people, in my own special Laura Jane way. I like making people feel good about themselves.
I should have had her come live in Toronto with me. More realistically, I wish I'd given her my e-mail address, or at very least, told her to listen to the Beatles. I want to hold her hand and look down. She was wearing halter-topped short-alls with no t-shirt underneath, like a little hillbilly. On her shoulders were tan-lines from a different shirt. The Mother was flagrantly popping sleeping pills and kept dropping them all over the floor, would wake me up from fractured dozing by smacking into me with her hips and thighs, scrambling to save them. She was sloppy, doing drugs in the bathroom, and Sanskrit woke up and called out, "Where's my Mom?" and I said "In the bathroom, I think?" and she said, so pointed and matter-of-fact, "She's using in there."
I sat down next to her. I introduced myself, and told her she could ask me for whatever she needed, whenever she needed it. At Syracuse, I bought three for a dollar Subway cookies. The total turned out to be $1.08, but the employee was cool with a dollar, not because he liked me, but because he was lazy at his job.
The pillow she was sleeping against was lavender and so waxy dirty I wouldn't even let my DOG touch it (if I had a dog). I couldn't see the mom so I sat back down with Sanskrit, whose name was Caitlin, and gave her one of my cookies. I gave her a peanut butter cookie. I respected how she bit into it hard; she ate it in three bites. I'd overheard her saying she was hungry while her mother was insisting she was hiding a water bottle behind her head, which she wasn't. The mom re-appeared and yelled at me, for interfering, or just to get some negativity out of her system, probably. My busmates seemed to think me illicit and unsubtle. I thought I was just doing the right thing.
They had to get off at a special stop, because they were transferring to a Cleveland bus. The mom was konked when we hit in. I shook her awake, and all so swift they scurried off, were gone. I said a quick bye to Caitlin, Sanskrit. She was half-asleep and squinted. She left behind a pink & purple gimp lanyard that she was working on weaving. I took it, and have been trying to wear it as a bracelet all week. I thought maybe about turning it into a keychain, but I guess I'll just do nothing. Hang on to it, keep it forever, and have it stay as what it is. It bothers me that she only knows she lost it, and not that it's with me. I think about her a lot.
IX. RAY BOUVIER
"Dudes dudes dudes dude duderson dude dude dudes."
-Laura Jane Faulds, Summer 2009.
Last night, I dreamed that you were looking through my cell phone, and discovered that you're listed in my address book under "Bonerface."
It was cool when I used to Twitter about Snoopy all the time.
August 31st, 2009: It is football season at Varsity Arena, and it occurs to me that Ray Davies is not immortal.
X. STARING AT THE STEEPLE
When you make something, and you give it to the world, it stops belonging to you, and it starts belonging to them, which is what you wanted, but when it happens, it's a lot to take in. I write around the negative space of all the things I don't say. So when it turns to theirs, that all disappears, and gets filled in with their own things. And you just have to say, "Okay. I'll like those too."
Mine for here is that the first three songs on Blueberry Boat by the Fiery Furnaces last the exact duration of the Headphones Walk from my front door to Varsity Arena, 7-11 stop included.
The crack in the sky is over it too. If there is one spot in this city that is mine, it's the Varsity Arena. Over the past three months, it has become an integral part of my "creative process." The Varsity Arena! I walk there to think, and I sit there to write it down fast. There are tacky white cement benches, and I share them with old men who sip leisurely at paper cups of Tim Horton's coffee, rims rolled up. Depending on whether it is June, July or August, I have either a Big Gulp of Diet Coke, a thing of green juice, or a Kit-Kat bar. Depending on the day of the week, it's either: Nothing, people running, wheelchair racing, or pole-vaulting practice.
If it's nothing, I zone and stare, measured, at Tier G and Tier H, and I make the initials into "George Harrison" in my head. If it's Thursday, it's pole-vaulting practice: my favourite. I watch these strangers, these pole-vaulters, not but seventy-five feet away- from me, Laura Jane!- and I wonder how they ended up here, and I ended up here, compared to each other. We're all champs, at least, which is maybe the weirdest part. Driven and compelled, but by what? They are sweating so hard from physical exertion I can see the pearly sweat on their shoulders and chests. I am perspiring nonchalantly, down either side of my nose, because it is a snug summer's day. We all love something. I drink, or eat, my thing.
"Staring at the Steeple" is the strongest song on the album. We all stare at something! It is better than "Initials BB" by Serge Gainsbourg for pretending to be a spy to. It is dark purple, with some brown in it.
XI. EVEN IN THE RAIN
And what is life, if not the search for the perfect Laura Jane pop song? I couldn't tell you. Because it is.
1) "Rain" by the Beatles
2) "Even in the Rain" by the Fiery Furnaces
3) The Idle Race, "(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree"
4) "Gotta Get Up," Harry Nilsson
5) "Goody Goodbye" by Sandy Salisbury
I was on my way to go start writing, this, that you are reading. "Never been this calm as I wander around," she sang. If there's one thing that's changed about me this summer, it's the way that I write.
This song is perfect. So perfect that there is no need to thumb through my Thesaurus and try to find a more perfect word. That day, it was as perfect as ever, as the first time I heard it, as it was on holiday, before and after, as it is and was and always will be, as I am he and you are me...
Every single day of my life, all those girls, we'd all be into "Even in the Rain." It's the second-catchiest pop song I'll ever hear, unless Friedberger one-ups himself in the future.
Once, there was this girl...
XII. KEEP ME IN THE DARK
I like albums better than movies or books because they're quick and open-ended. You don't have to stop or start them anywhere. They're forever. They go away, but then they come back. For two days two days ago, I really thought that I'm Going Away by the Fiery Furnaces was done. Because it was the 1970s TV show theme song to my summer of 2009, which is now canceled, which is fine.
But it's not going anywhere, it's just that it won't be that anymore. Nothing can be new forever. Forever, I'm Going Away by the Fiery Furnaces will be I'm Going Away by the Fiery Furnaces, and it will be the record I listen to when I want to feel nostalgic, for this blessed, brilliant summer.
And then, one day, there will be a new Fiery Furnaces album. And it will take me round all over again.
In the end- who's to say what's in your heart, or what isn't in it?
I don't think that all you need is love, or that love is all you need, or that the love you take is equal to the love you make.
As far as I'm concerned:
The spark of art puts love to shame.
Laura Jane Faulds
Tags: babes, dudes, Eleanor Friedberger, girls, Hare Krishna festivals, Laura Jane Faulds, Neil Aspinall, summer, Summer 2009, The Beatles, The Fiery Furnaces, The James Joyce of Fashion Bloggers, The Kinks
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