Saturday, October 18, 2008

tie yourself to me

"yeah, you're not rid of me
yeah, you're not rid of me
i'll make you lick my injuries
i'm gonna twist your head off, see

till you say don't you wish you never never met her."

this has always been one of those songs that cause me to let my eyes flutter shut, and my imagination travel into unknown realms of storytelling. the song plays at being muse to my writing, and i see a plot unfold within the steady bassline, the sensual, albeit slightly disturbing lyrics, and the building rhythm and melody that just takes you over. it feels like seduction, like desperation, like raw wanting.

kate schatz felt the same way, and i cannot recommend the result enough, in 33 1/3: pj harvey: ride of me. here is her description:

There’s a thing that happens:

You love an album. You get into it—listening over and over, taking in every sound, beat, shift, and phrase. You sing along, memorize the silence between each song. You absorb it, you feel it.

And it gets into you.

A great album tells a story, whether explicit and linear or subtle and discrete. And when you love that album, when it’s gotten inside and you know the characters, landscapes, lyrics, and rhythms, there’s another thing that happens: it becomes yours. You own it, you have a relationship with it. You know each other. It’s your music, they’re your stories—you become free to put meaning here, add interpretation there, decide exactly what it’s all about, then change your mind with each listen. It’s mutual and consensual and very, very private.

And then sometimes you make it public. The album’s narrative begets new narratives and you want to share that somehow, let these expanded possibilities be known. A declaration of adoration, a kind of self-serving homage. Maybe it takes the form of a cover song, freely or closely interpreted. Or the written word: a critical essay, a trenchant article, a dissertation.
But you’re not a musician or a critic—you’re a fiction writer who loves music, who loves stories. The potential within each song, each lyric. And there’s one album that stands out, that you can’t shake, that you find as fascinating now as you did when it came out, in 1993, and you were a swoony day-dreamy teenager mesmerized by the music’s anger, its beauty, its dark and twisted humor. Raw guitars, crashing drums, love-wrecked lyrics telling stories of betrayal, revenge, isolation, sex. The seduction, the violence, those moans and howls. That voice. It was a whole other world.

You love what PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me did then, what it still does, what it can do. So you embark on an experiment. You reenter it, once again listening over and over, sometimes just one song on repeat for hours. You get into it and it gets right back into you. Characters, lyrics, and landscapes. Moods and tones and those feelings. You begin writing. With each song, to each song, from each song. Around and near and under and then, at some point, it takes a shape. Characters emerge. These two women. These woods. Chapters like songs, book like an album. It becomes a new story, years of listening spiraled out into new words and meanings.

This is the book. It’s not about Rid of Me—it’s because of it.

thank you, jenn, for sending it to me.

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