Review Summary: I MUST SAY THAT IN THE RIGHT LIGHT YOU LOOK LIKE SHACKLETON [steps into the light]
I sort of just always need these songs.
My ipod has a capacity of about three hundred songs. I try to be familiar with half of what I put on there, and treat the other half as a test; let’s learn to love Four Tet tonight. He skips anonymously through space, hovering above me in the dark, praying I won’t reject him with a loud click. I usually fast-forward, though: I kick him, or whatever wonderful, envelope-pushing artist I’ve cherry-picked, off the centre stage. He exits right.
I’d like to believe I’m better than that, because music is about open-mindedness and the virtue of wanting to learn. I should embrace new music warmly, but too often I am being tenacious, trying to impose myself on it. What if discovering new music was just a routine you got into, like doing your washing once a week or reading a chapter of your shi
tty set reading before you go to bed? My ipod is a shuffle, so I am obviously trying to do something that sticks. Every night before bed I try to experience a new fu
cking moment. But I usually just stick on The Meadowlands
Tonight I put Reconstruction Site
on there for the first time in about half a year. I’m starting to wonder why exactly that is. This album should have a standing order; I assert again that my ipod has a capacity of about three hundred songs, give or take a Godspeed suite, but it always needs these ones. It always needs “Benediction,” to remind me it will rain again when it hasn’t for a while. It always needs “The Reasons,” to remind me I am a valuable human being, either because someone else thinks so or because I do. It always needs “One Great City!,” for times like two nights ago when I got egged by two kids while walking home, and was able to smile and be happy that at least they were having a good time, and that nobody got hurt, and that this city is generally benevolent. It needs “Our Retired Explorer” so that I will take my earphones out and turn it off and get out of bed and start living my day. And so on. I need Reconstruction Site
These songs are warm blankets. I can never unlearn them; I can’t remember the point in time when I was skipping them as if I got to be the judge of how they made me feel. I can vaguely remember thinking “The Reasons” was the only worthwhile track. But like a housemate, they stuck with me for another year, for a second lease. I did not familiarise myself with them, but became intimate with them, closed the front door to find them in the living room, cherished one of their subdued jokes before turning in. Reconstruction Site
was a routine, and is again, now, but one that imposed itself on me. Maybe it – maybe Samson – knew it would be good for me? It’s nice to come home to an empty house, but not to the one you share. Not for more than a couple of nights.
Samson’s songs comfort you. Their characters are being comforted, which isn’t always the same as being comfortable; that spiritually restless character in “(Hospital Vespers)” can hardly get a moment to themselves before they’re carried off, arms flailing, lungs screaming, but there’s someone there with them. A friend watches their most vulnerable moment, likely their weakest, and somehow it’s a service. Samson makes it sound like they needed to be there. Reconstruction Site
basically exists between two characters – the patient and the visitor, you and Samson – one saying “I’m glad you’re here” to the other.
That’s the worst moment of the record, like the most tortuous one, and it’s shared. That’s a pretty special thing. I can’t think of many other artists who really want to be there when your generic, realistically hard-to-relate world is crumbling, but Samson follows you around while that happens. There’s a kind spirit tailing the move in “A New Name For Everything” to make sure it goes alright, and to tut when it doesn’t. Not judgementally, but affectionately; you have to get better on your own, Reconstruction Site
says, but not alone.
“Let your losses dangle off the sharp end of a century”, though? They’re yours to be had, but you can forget about them with someone.
I’m glad the Weakerthans are on my ipod tonight. I’m glad for the company. A new experience is wonderful, but there are times when they can loom over you, not sit next to you. There’s a reason for that chair in the hospital, or the extra stool at your favourite neglected pub, or just to own a pet, whether you’re a cat person or a dog person. They’re waiting to be sat in, pulled up, fed. Like its own living, breathing thing, more friendly cartoon character than person, because that’s so much better, Reconstruction Site
leans in and puts its arm around you. If that’s too much, it just twiddles its thumbs while you go off on one. I guess I’m basically saying me and this album are going to spoon tonight, and that’s okay.