If there’s one thing I love about meeting new people, it’s getting into new (or old) music. Last month, I met a pretty fantastic boy that was really in to Neutral Milk Hotel. NMH is one of those bands I had kind of put on the back burner. Not because they’re not an amazing band. in fact, Jeff Mangum’s voice and lyrics have been haunting me for years now. I first heard about them through WVUM 90.5 FM (the radio station that, funny enough, I wound up working for year later) and then later through my friend Hector who put a few NMH songs on a mix cd for me.
From then, i’d kind of forgotten about them until 2005, when I met a boy in California who absolutely loved them. During one of my trips to Los Angeles, he even tried to teach me how to play Two-Headed Boy on the guitar (I got a little of it but have forgotten since). But after I came back to Miami, and after that short-lived romance had ended, I stopped listening to them. Things didn’t work out with the boy and although I wouldn’t admit it in those days, enough time has passed to say that I was really heartbroken.But It wasn’t their fault that things didn’t work out with that particular boy. The music is never responsible. It only serves as a reminder of things that might have been, things that once were, things that can’t be. And that’s alright. Because it’s making me realize something important.
See, I’ve spent about 3 hours now listening to this song on repeat, going over so many things in my head that might’ve mattered, that could matter, that probably shouldn’t. The great thing about listening to something over and over again is that eventually, the song means something completely different. It’s like when you say a word over and over again until it begins to deconstruct, decompose. It gets pulled apart, shredded, torn, and eventually it’s completely unrecognizable. The same is true for music. You can analyze a song to death, you can cherish it until it’s gone, you hold it close until you can’t remember why you were holding on in the first place.
And so it is with this particular song, Three Peaches, that I’ve gone through all of this, that’s seen me go through this, that continues to exist. I didn’t even bother to look up the words at first, but then I did, and of course it took on more meaning. But the more I listen to it, the less I want to cry and the more I want to be inspired, the more I want to do. It’s the kind of song that shackles you to the bottom of the ocean just long enough for you to find the key and rush back to the top. It resonates- because we’ve all felt that thing that sits in the back of Mangum’s throat. It’s the same thing that’s in the back of our minds and at the bottom of our bellies and hidden deep within the cavity of our chests, a harsh reality that simultaneously slaps you in the face and then cradles you until you’re okay again.
This song isn’t just a song. It means so much in its simplicity. So much emotion in each note. And to me, it means more than that. It means moments, it means history, it means everything i’ve felt for so few, on such rare occasion, when i’ve actually been capable, and it means a fresh start when it’s finally all behind me.
So listen. Just… listen. And if you hear it, if you know what i’m talking about, well.. then that’s all there is to it. That’s all I can say about that.