Gareth’s email came a couple weeks ago, only a few days after I had asked him if he had any marked songs of his own.
The night before, I caught Fuck Buttons at the Independent, and I had spent that morning writing my review and questioning their music’s lack of human presence. I wasn’t convinced that the absence evoked any real emotion (which is something I think about whenever I cover anything remotely electronic), and I had just about finished my review when I saw his message.
It changed my mind about the show. I decided that what is implied by the extramusical is sometimes just as important to a song as its sound—that the implications to the listener contribute to the emotional value of the experience. I scrapped everything and started over.
Gareth David, Musician, Los Campesinos!
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “Jeanne, If You’re Ever In Portland”
I can’t remember if I played it for her, or if she for me. I think either way it was probably redundant in terms of showcasing a new song to the other, as we almost certainly both knew it before. We met at a music festival. The courting, if you can call it that, was conducted over the space of about 36 hours and was every bit the cliché that I try to disassociate myself from these days. But when recalling travails for the purpose of this piece, this is doubtless my most formative connection with someone. It’s the first time I remember meeting someone and thinking, “We’re a bit the same.” The programmed drums are skittish and the casio melody’s childlike, and both were fair approximations of how I felt, miles and miles and miles from home on a weekend away, having met this kind, pretty, intelligent girl. We hid out in the dunes on the beach while my friends paddled, and curled up under a blanket on the dirty carpet of the room in which her friends slept. And Owen Ashworth sings, “There’s kissing in Kansas, but that’s not home”, and there was and it wasn’t.
We hung out a couple of times after that weekend, over the course of a couple of years. I wrote a couple of songs about her, and now I’m writing this and really it feels like they’re not my memories to write about. We exchanged letters in the weeks after meeting and parting. She wrote beautifully, in miniature handwriting on bound pages trimmed to fit perfectly inside decorated matchboxes, but there was never more than letters and phone calls. We were never an item, and I selfishly, drunkenly tried to re-conjure that weekend a couple of times when the band I’m in caused me to be in the same city as her. We’ve not spoken since and probably five years have passed. About two years ago, a mutual acquaintance sent me a message to say he’d seen her for the first time in a while and that she had asked him to say hi to me.
I’ve had relationships that have inflicted much greater collateral damage, spread over far wider periods of time, but this is the one that set me up for being me, I think. I’m very happy now, and I’m certain she is too, and I’m grateful to have had a brilliant song imbued with larger emotional significance. Hi.