Saturday, 3 December 2016

No Apologies for the Infinite Radness 1.1.18 - "My Sundown" (Jimmy Eat World)

A song about calling time and moving on.

My copy of this album isn't called "Bleed American", because I didn't buy it until 2002. By then it had been renamed - de-named, really - in the wake of September 11th. I got the album as my final term as an undergraduate began. I listened to it multiple times a day in between studying for the last exams I would ever take, staring out into a world that had become unrecognisable. Changes dripped from the walls and covered the skin, and every change felt like an ending.

Leaving university felt profoundly strange. For most of us it was the first community we had any meaningful choice about living in. I loved my school friends with the kind of fierceness only the young and ignorant can manage - these days it's uncommon for me to so much as nod at them on Facebook - but surviving the local comprehensive together felt less like forming a network of the like-minded and more like survivors of a shipwreck banding together to avoid being eaten by bears. Maybe it was just because of how many of us were forced to read Lord of the Flies at the time.

University was different. This was a place we'd chosen. The social structures we formed over the years we were there we built because we wanted to be there, and wanted being there to mean as much as it could. 

And now it was about to end, just as the world had finally revealed its chaos so completely that even a sheltered middle-class white boy couldn't fail to notice it any more.

"My Sundown" lives in the intersection of two realisations: that it's time to move on, but that there's no way of knowing what you're moving on to. The narrator says goodbye at sundown, and that means they're travelling by night. Departure imminent, destination unknown. All that matters is that things can't stay as they are. 

Everything here is shot through with bittersweetness. You don't choose sundown as your metaphor if you're overjoyed about what's coming next, after all. But it's also clear that unsolvable problems have been revealed by he light of day. Nobody seems to care about whatever progress you're making here. You can't really move on unless you're leaving something behind.

There's an ethereal, calming quality to the song, too. The slow strum, the soft, airy vocals, the constant flow of synthesised noise bubbling underneath everything. This is a dream of how a pop-rock album should end. It's a lullaby you sing to yourself. The need to become more than what you are eventually bleeds out into your sleep.

It was the summer of 2002, and every day saw me further into the dusk. I was about to leave almost everything I knew behind, and travel out into a world that I had never found so scary. Sundown was coming any minute.

I dreamed of becoming something more.

No Apologies for the Infinite Radness 1.1: Sad Bastard Music

Here's your b-side. Something nice for us to make our way out to.

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