I listen to albums over and over until the tape stretches out and breaks. Which is one of the reasons that I love digital audio so much, since that doesn't happen to me anymore. But that's how I do it, when I find something that's hitting the right part of me at a certain time, I let it bump up against me over and over, making it's mark. Right now, that album is Bon Iver's second album (called, interestingly enough, "Bon Iver").Yeah yeah, I know, check my hipster street cred at the door.
"Beth/Rest" has been particularly compelling to me–it's gorgeous, it kind of reminds me of late 80's Steve Winwood songs, which I love, and it's the best use of auto-tune that I've heard.
But I have no idea what it's about. Except that I do. But I don't really. But I feel like I do. But I don't.
"Errant heat to the star, and the rain let in. The hawser rolls, the vessel's whole and Christ, it's thin."
One stanza in and I'm totally devastated. But here's what's bugging me right now. Nothing about the song, the song's perfect.
I had to look up "hawser" because I'm not form a fishing village. And while I was reading, I found website after website, discussion after discussion, post after post—all regular human beings talkig about what they thought the lyrics meant, what they meant to them personally, how they interpreted them.
These people aren't music scholars, they're not even people who steep themselves in the singular culture of one type of music (at least from what I can tell from various "song meaning" threads.) They're just people, thinking about things they enjoy. It's very reassuring.
This impression that a piece of time-based art leaves. The sense that you know something more than you did before, but you can't really explain what. The feeling of waking from a dream that you don't remember all the parts, but you feel the sense of the whole. This is what I try to do. What I think I do pretty well. But it's always bothered me that the majority of people who approach it don't allow short films to occupy the same space in their minds that they would give to a song of similar complexity or ambiguity.
Where are those conversations, ones that spring from love and wonder? Where are those people, full of curiosity, not yet wedded to a school of thought, not yet blinded by the expectations of the canon?
At film festivals? Don't be silly. YouTube? Vimeo?
Where is this long tail of the mind?