It’s hard to explain something that’s important to you. Music possesses a power over me and has the ability to change my life absolutely. Sometimes I drench myself in a certain band, and it steers my life in a direction I may not have otherwise taken. It effects the way I feel about everything.
I’ve liked Ra Ra Riot for a few years now. Three and a half, I think. In the beginning, it was just normal. I had two of their songs. I liked his voice, I liked the strings. I knew no faces or names to put with the sounds.
But the past few months have brought them into light. I’ve been so consumed with the people that make this music that I’ve tricked myself into believing I’m a part of it. I had feelings too real to be able to write it off as a phase. However, I do feel it passing. I feel my love fading. I hear them and feel sad. I don’t want to stop and I don’t want it to be the end.
It’s been different than any other band obsession I’ve been in. I didn’t find songs that fit how I felt in my life, I shaped my life subconsciously to match what I was hearing. The Rhumb Line has less to do with it. The Rhumb Line, their first album, served its purpose in the winter of my life a year ago. Can You Tell, Ghost Under Rocks, Winter ’05, Each Year, Dying is Fine, and particularly Oh, La helped me. But at that point, I still knew nothing about the band. I didn’t hear the words, I just heard the music as a whole. Which is a much safer way of listening.
It’s The Orchard. I blame it on The Orchard. It’s been much more than a great album to me. It’s been my life. Too Dramatic and Boy started it all. Had I not begun with the two hits of the album, I would not have made the decision to go deeper. A short affair with Massachusetts, though the Mathieu Santos version holds more meaning to me. (I honestly had myself convinced for a while that I may actually have a chance at a relationship with him. I met him for probably 5 minutes and thought I had a good grip on his character.) But the strings in the RRR version are to die for. If I heard them on my deathbed, I could die a happy person. Shadowcasting and Do You Remember come next. Exhalting joy. Sun. Running down a hill. An orchard. Memories. A life so incredibly real it must be magic. Such joy and yet such doubt.
I hope that I don’t see you anymore. I won’t.
Do you remember what you said to me then, under the oak trees and the leaves withering?
There’s fear, too. Embarrassment. Love, for the present at least. Uncertainty, but resolve. It’s not just in the words. The strings, the uneven and unplanned guitar weaving in and out. The emotional vocalizing. You feel more than the sum of the parts.
I never became friends with The Orchard, the title track. Kansai and Foolish don’t move me, though I like them.
You and I Know used to make me mad. The talented and sickeningly pretty cellist, Alexandra, caused me jealousy. Like I was in competition with her or something. Like I actually had any comparable power. I think she used to date Mathieu. How could they not have been together? I think she wrote You and I Know about him. So I hated it.
But I just found out a few days ago that she is quitting the band. I’ve been listening to her song and feeling weird. Though I had issues with her, I liked the band before I even knew anything about her. And I think the cello adds astronomical beauty. I think this news brought the final blow down onto my fading feelings for RRR. I don’t fear for the band. I don’t feel sad that it’s changing. I think I mostly feel sad for myself. Maybe because I’ve been living a half-lie. Or maybe because I’m realizing it was just a phase after all. Maybe because I was living my dream of being a musician through the band.
As a cellist, I couldn’t help but think I could replace Alex. I asked my mom if something like that ever happened, if I ever got the opportunity to tour with a band, be in a band, or have a band of my own, if she would let me leave college and persue it. She said yes. Her answer surprised me. I wouldn’t think twice about it if the opportunity came. It’s something I’ve always desired but only just now discovered might be possible.
That brings me to the end of the album, to the end of my affinity for RRR, perhaps. Keep It Quiet. The entire song is slow; measured. Everything is very even. None of the sparkling and quick movements that characterize most of their songs. Steady chords, steady plain drum beat and bassline, guitar ticking evenly like a clock or a steadily dripping faucet, synchronized string sways. It’s sad, in a way. It’s all about doubt, supressing emotions that might just make things harder in the end.
Trouble having satisfied two different halves
Can I give up on one? It’s a thought I hate.
All I could lose, it’s a cruel life I choose.
Keep it quiet, oh my heartbeat, keep it quiet.
It’s about a different situation than I’m in. But it works all the same. Doubts. Giving up. Supression. It’s a sad acceptance for me. Now that I know the truth of it, now that I know my feelings, now that it’s over,
How can I want to stay around?