Hunched over in my tiny own personal space on the 7.47 to Clapham Junction, eyes closed, trying to ignore the brutish commuters walking in desperate search of a seat banging into my tucked-in elbows and nearly upsetting my flask of homemade coffee, headphones wrapped tight round my head, hunched in more, trying make myself so small as to be invisible, retreating further and further inside, so wanting to create a tiny inviolate bubble, I make the decision to play the last Breeders album on my crappy iPhone (battery lasts 30 minutes max). This is a big moment for me. Back in April, a day before my birthday, I wrote a blog entry for The Friendly Critic that I later turned into a song and performed several times on stage, about how I found myself unable to listen to the new Breeders album, how listening to the new Breeders album upset me, how the very idea of being upset by listening to a Breeders album upset me, and how…
I was in a state of shock. I had divorced and moved town eight weeks earlier. I did not know where I was, who I was. I had no context to listen to music within. Hearing a new Breeders album – as deft and skittish and spooky and minimal as it is, as they always are – reminded me of everything I was not. It did not offer understanding, or future directions. Nostalgia can work as a communal experience, not so much in isolation. Hearing the album amid a welter of friends claiming their love for the album served to isolate me further. I was not enjoying the performance of April 2018. I wanted to be anywhere rather than April 2018, listening to the new Breeders album. I removed it as I had removed most everything from my life (music, friends, a home, somewhere to feel comfortable) and carried on regardless. Not because I had to or wanted to, more because I have children.
So, this is a big deal for me. Huddled in my tight corner, trying to avoid the brutish elbows and shoulder bags of my fellow commuters, wanting to retreat into my own special space. Enjoying hearing the new Breeders album. Once again understanding the magic.
Around 30 minutes ago, I trawled through half-a-dozen or more reviews of All Nerve, the Breeders album. None of them mentioned what the album is about. I know what this album is about – how could I not, having my father die after a long period of dementia, having my mother unable to recognise herself, her children or anything around her in an old folks’ home in Chelmsford? How could I not?
It would have been nice to have received back-up, though.
Stopping for one second to praise Josephine’s tremulous ‘MetaGoth’ with its layers of spooked guitar, stopping for one second to wonder why I have not been able to hold on to even one friend over the past few months, stopping for a moment to relish the fact I am listening to the new Breeders album and it is not making me upset, angry or demotivated…
Stopping for a moment to glance at the notice boards outside…
Stopping for just one moment.
I have silent tears creasing my cheeks during ‘Spacewoman’ as my fellow commuters step on oblivious.
“I watch you disappear,” sings Kim. “You have no gravity. How long?”
“I wanna see you,” sings Kim. “Especially you. You don’t know how much I miss you.”
I have no one left to say this next line to me, but I am going to say it anyway.
Welcome home, Jerry. Welcome home.