Adam Listens to PJ Harvey, Gets Mushy bout Past, Loses Pieces of Manhood

pj-harvey_lI enjoyed my track by track experiment yesterday. I did it again today. PJ Harvey’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.

1. “Big Exit” I’ve only seen one shooting star in my life and it was while listening to this album.  I was driving my truck home from dropping Evelyn off at her house.  I was in my green Nissan truck XE. That was the model. Truck.  Very basic. I was winding around the backroads of Wallingford Connecticut with a huge smile on my face and one arm out out the window and my other arm drumming the stick shift.  It was the second or third or fourth time I saw Evelyn without a group of people and I liked her a lot.

2. “Good Fortune” Pretty mushy, I know. Don’t worry, it gets worse.  So it’s probably just after 1 because that was her curfew.  I just happened to be looking up at the right moment and there it was: a star, shooting, just like they say, across the sky.

3. “A Place Called Home” It was a sign: this music, this truck, this girl. It was all right. A lot of people will tell you this album is not as good as PJ Harvey’s earlier stuff but they are just being cool.  A place called home.  Some PJ Harvey is very bleak and angry and you can tell she hates the world and there is some guy who is really fucking with her.  This album is not like that.  She’s in the city and she’s got someone and it’s all great. This is probably why most people don’t like it that much.  Happiness? She’s supposed to be this coldhearted bitch, moaning all the time.  What is this upbeat acoustic piano shit?  We want the low chords, the flats, the step downs, not the up up up happy chords!  Well, sometimes, I know its hard to admit, the world is pretty good. And this album makes me think of that- when it was all going all right.

4.  “One Line” Lyric: “Stars shooting across the sky.” Not making that up. I’m really not.  I don’t think I was listening to that song at the exact moment, but it was on that trip.  And I remember I had a shitty copy of the CD that kept skipping.  I installed the CD player myself and it didn’t play real CDs only burnt copies and it scratched the shit out of them when you played them.  I made copies of the CDs I wanted to listen to. I did own this one. I bought it used at Record Express or at that place on the Silas Deane Highway- Strawberries- yea, I think it was there.  Weird. I just remembered that this exact CD 3 years later was in Evelyn’s car when her car was broken into next to my school.  Window smashed- radio gone- but the guys had the heart to eject the CD and leave it on the seat.  They also left their screwdriver the morons, but leaving a burnt Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea was very nice of them.

5. “Beautiful Feeling” Here is your slow one.  But it’s called beautiful.  I didn’t write anything just then because I was just absorbing it, sitting here in the Bronx with a little light and a couple mosquitoes.  All my roomates are asleep and Evelyn is away.

6. “The Whores Hustle and the Hustler’s Whore” This is my second favorite song on the album because of the 1:15 yelp. She’s got a wonderful yelp PJ Harvey.  Lyrics: “The whore’s hustle and the hustler’s whore.  Too many people out of love…city’s ripped right to the core.” I like when the bottom drops out in the middle of the big chord change.  No bass and then it comes right back then it goes away and just drones on with the reverbed guit.  Drumming comes back with her building up- heroin and speed- then we are all back- listen to those pipes- 3:21- damn.  I should lower it its 1230 on a weeknight for these people. I don’t, don’t worry.

7.  “This Mess We’re In” This one has Thom Yorke in it.  I like him doing his droning thing while she sings  and then talking and then singing and mixing it up.  I know they probably didn’t record it at the same time, but I can picture them in some nicely rugged and tapestried studio in Manhattan singing to each other and each of them swinging their heads back when they start droning on.  PJ Harvey reading a letter and Thom Yorke in his own little world, spinning in slow circles, the mic cables and headphone cables wrapping around his whole body.

8. “You Said Something” Here’s the song I remember most from that drive home.   It is very cheesy but it’s one of those songs I will listen to one thousand times and it will still make me feel like the world is awesome.  I had been to New York a bunch of times before this but I didn’t start living there ’til 2 weeks after the shooting star thing, so that was August 2003- it’s June 2009- how did I get here to this point of living? Very perfect just there- it’s odd how sometimes I feel like I am Pink Floyd’s Dark Side and the music is the Wizard of Oz, or I guess it would be the exact opposite of that, but either way, this album is mathching up with my head and my writing a lot, and the shooting star thing. It makes me think maybe this album is horrible, but I was listening to it at the right time. Man, I’m glad I wasn’t listening to Creed or something and it stuck with me as one of my all time favorite albums just because I was feeling awesome 5 years ago in a truck driving home at 2 am.

9. “Kamikaze” This one seems forced, let’s get out of the rut.  She can rock, build it up and kill it. I think there are probably 5 guitar tracks on this song, but its OK.  I’m trying to write so fast to keep up with it my hands are slipping off the keyboard.  OK there I go I got through a page.  That’s always my goal before I give it all up and go to bed- 1 page on my good old friend Microsoft Word. OK back to the music.  Kamikaze! Kamikaze! Space here we come…

10. “This is Love” The single and the hap hap hap hap happy song.  This is the one evelyn says she remembers most because after that night I was so much in love with PJ Harvey I listened to this album while driving around in my truck for 2 weeks.  And in CT there ain’t much to do but drive around… so we drove to parks and made out and got pulled over 3 times, one time for blowing thru 3 stop lights at 1:05 and the guy let me go…if I was listening to PJ Harvey it was probably kamikaze on that night, but for some reason “This is Love” falls flat for me at this point in the album.  I don’t think it stands out enough. “You Said Something” is the climax of the album for me, and then “Kamikaze” is just balls to the wall happy smashing.  “This is Love” comes a little too late I think, and I don’t like the way it ends, but we shall move on because it just faded.

11. “Horses in my Dreams” This is depressing. OK I guess there needed to be something middle ground between kamikaze and horses, but I don’t know.  Let’s fuck the past and listen: this song does slow the world down. The Bronx, This room, My head…. I have pulled myself clear and I have… this song has my head spaced and my arms heavy.  It does make me sleepy, but not in a bad way. It’s been a long day…I’m seeing a big concept in this whole thing, it is called Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.

12. ” We Float” But just now was the first time I really got the ending. “You said Something” is the early stages of falling in love, “Kamikaze” is the happy run amock bliss of thinking you are in love, “This is Love” is really knowing it’s love, and then “Horses in my Dreams” is the looking back on how shitty it all was and realizing you’ve beaten it, you’ve beaten the world.  “We Float” is pretty weird. Weird lyrics, but it’s an extension of horses, the almost psychedelic and calm understanding. Not getting too far ahead of yourself, but being comepletely and completely at ease with the world. It’s where I used to be, mostly when I listened to this album and told everyone about how great this album was, but most people didn’t really like it or care to listen. They weren’t at the place I was at.  Evelyn really dug it, which is fitting because it was, at least I think, the same for the both of us. This is kindof about you, this is kindof about me. Wait, are they broken up now?  Now I’m not so sure. Maybe the whole thing was falling in love with the city and forgetting a man.  Maybe.  Well it’s got me floating, even with a cranked neck and broken wrists from writing while keeping up with an album.  A nice fadeout. One day…