Love in the Time of Cirrhosis: How Son Volt’s “Windfall” Crushed One Love and Sparked Another by Nick Hartman
Son Volt’s “Windfall” revolutionized my taste in music.
That wasn’t easy in 1995. Nihilism and grunge ruled the day. From Generation X’s perspective, everyone and everything was fucked. But somewhere between the omnipresent drone of Nirvana, clove cigarettes, and pocket Camus readers, a total stranger introduced me to a genre of music that would become my personal soundtrack.
Unfortunately, I wanted to punch this guy in the face.
I woke up on a bench, holding my purse tight to my chest, and my backpack between my legs. At least I had my pillow from home to rest my head upon. It was freezing in the Heathrow airport. I kept my winter jacket zipped up and wrapped my scarf around my face as I slept. I opened my eyes and looked at the time. I cringed, realizing I was only on hour three of a fourteen-hour layover heading to Suvarnabhumi airport, Thailand.
Disarm you with a smile, and cut you like you want me to.
I didn’t really think too much about it, the meaning behind those lyrics,
because I was a nine year old listening to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Disarm on Star 98.7 back in 1994, and I didn’t really know much about anything, let alone knowing how to critically listen to lyrics or melody.
All I knew was that I really liked that song, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
The forest green carpet isn’t so ugly when all the lights are off. It scratches at my chin as I bury my face in it so he can’t hear my sobs or my screams. I have my headphones on so I don’t wake my sister. And so He won’t know how I angry I am.
I can’t be angry. I went to Catholic school. I am only allowed to be sad. I can’t be angry that she’s gone. I can’t be angry at God for letting her die. I am supposed to find comfort in the fact that she is in heaven now. God says she is at rest. That she is with her father and mother. That she isn’t suffering. That she doesn’t need any more surgeries. Or chemo. Or radiation. Or bone marrow transplants. That she isn’t scared anymore.
An Abridged List of Enduring Wants by Nina Sudhakar
1. I want to run
Joshua Tree came out two years after I was born, a time before memory that nonetheless imprints itself on one’s consciousness. It played in the background throughout my early childhood, until I started school and grew old enough to understand music and develop my own tastes. These turned, unsurprisingly to U2.
The album that had existed nearly as long as I had was about America. No — it was about a foreigner’s vision of America, a vast and mythical place. A country as it was imagined, not as it actually was. As the first-generation child of immigrants, I knew in my bones the place Bono was singing about. However far I ran from my parents, experiencing a childhood for which they had no reference points, we always agreed on music.
On “Drive-in Saturday” by David Bowie by Lisa Matthews
Saturday. My father spent his working life with other people using his skill to make money. He came home and talked about the men he grafted alongside, the sparks and the brickies and the plasterers. Jung, the foreman prayed at work. Half-rhymes and surrealist imagery fold back and forth, bound by a voice and face I’d not seen before. None of it made sense. Pour me out another phone / I’ll ring and see if your friends are home. Where we lived, there was poverty and tradesmen making profit from other people (refer back to first line of prose-poem). There was no-one called Buddy in my street, but I imagined him leaning on a wall, flicking a rolled-up cigarette into the gutter. He’d shrug and ask to stay. So, he stayed. And he opened my world to Astronettes, The Stones, video films and the juxtaposition of strange characters and cut-ups. I had no idea what the bureau supply for aging men might be, but I knew the voice coming out of the radiogram was saying something important. I was compelled to listen, I took it in and felt it start to grow. For months, this song filled my room – on Saturdays – when my parents were out at the working men’s club. To feel a bigger world beyond the top of our street, to know for the very first time that life was more expansive than the one I could see above the backyard wall, to consider the man with the red flash down the side of his face, his supine body dissolving away into grey sediment. To witness people – and their language – moving around in rooms, and streets, and cities, all lying and dying and living to extremes I was yet to know.
About the Author:
Lisa Matthews is a poet, scholar & collaborative artist. Her fourth collection of poetry, Callisto, will be published in the UK by Red Squirrel Press in the spring of 2018. Lisa is currently working on a part-time, practice-led PhD looking at the relationships between prose-poetry and sequential writing and their roles in the creative exploration of grief and trauma. https://lisamatthewswriter.dunked.com & http://northumbria.academia.edu/LisaMatthews.
Her bedroom was in the basement. Four straight walls assembled for her older brother who had moved out. So she took it. DIY eighties basement bedrooms are generally windowless, as was this one. I also had a windowless room. What was once a skylight gave way to a sealed ceiling with a new roof that no longer leaked curse words from my father’s mouth with every rainstorm. Sure, probably unsafe, but like most of the eighties, no one questioned it. We didn’t wear helmets. We didn’t wear seat belts, and we didn’t question fire exit strategies. In fact, we relished in the ability to darken our rooms to nothing.
I don’t know if all depressives can pinpoint the exact moment they first felt that existential dread creep into their consciousness and start setting up permanent residence. But I know that, for me, it happened at the tail end of sunset on one of the last days of summer in 1998.