Oh hey, I’m still alive! Nothing terribly exciting has happened since my last post and I have made zero improvements, I believe. But I wanted to post about two disparate things. The second one will probably appear later this week.
Now that my non-update is out of the way, more about my playlists than you ever wanted to know. Because what I really felt like talking about was transitions. I got back to NY late tonight after a particularly tough journey, what with the weather we’re having on the east coast and particularly today in the mid-Atlantic. It was a long day and I was pondering transitions because I spent my morning shoveling out my car, as well as its space, my walk, and my stairs. It took an hour and a half but it felt like three. And then I got back and I was sitting on the subway with some very NY people and it was just… weird. All in one day. But I have some rituals to get me back in the groove of my “regular” life of work and apartment living and carlessness. I don’t need any ritual when I transition to Baltimore at all, because who needs help transitioning to vacation? But I do count the three large bodies of water over which the train passes in Maryland, which are all rivers feeding into the Chesapeake Bay. Each one gets me happier.
But on the way back, I have to slowly adjust to letting go of relaxation time and also being in New York. So I have a playlist, of course, and my playlist is mostly Talking Heads. Talking Heads are a quintessential NY band, which is part of it, but David Byrne actually grew up in Baltimore County, so I like to think he made this journey I make all the time, as well. More than that, though, is the essence of Talking Heads’ music which always feels awkward and nervous and out of place, which is often how I feel at that moment, coming back.
I start with this song, Sax and Violins. I turn it on just as the train pulls out of the station in Newark, which is about ten minutes away. Notice that the rhythm of the song is just like a slow moving train, which Amtrak always is at this point. It also has some thoughts on the idea of going home and New York. I will admit, it has served this purpose for me since 1991 when it came out. It’s a gentle, soothing song, but still has a sense of “where am I going exactly?” As it gets towards the end of the song, you can see the NY skyline from the train, especially the Freedom Tower.
If I’m on the left side of the train looking at New Jersey, I resist the urge to put on another song by them called Swamp. Oh ha ha.
Sometimes the train will speed up at this point, which is when I shift to Crosseyed and Painless which is very manic and energetic. There is something very frantic and on the edge about the song, but it really gets me in the mode to get off the train and get moving through hundreds of people. And it just feels like New York, cool and a little crazy.
A lot of the time, the train will stop or slow and then I have time for another song, and I go with another from the same album, Once in A Lifetime. If you’re not familiar, that’s the one where the guy seems to wake up in someone else’s life. The title of this post comes from there. So that works great.
This was a groundbreaking video at the time and I still find it mesmerizing. Plus, when I realize I have to face the real world again, I look a lot like David Byrne right here.
Once I’m at the station, well, I just pick the most energetic song there is. If you have walked through Penn Station, you’ll know why this is. Here was tonight’s pick, and it is a frequent choice. The mellow intro is great for going up the stairs and trying to stay calm on an escalator in a tube, mashed against several other people and their luggage. I try to time my exit into the concourse for 1:14. Just try to get in my way while this is in my ears!
Lately, I have added another track to my list. If the timing works and the subway comes right away, I get the calm but wistful song that comes right after Goon Squad on the album while I am sitting (hopefully) in the subway car. That ends midway through my ride, though, so now I like to play Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, because, well, I live off Broadway, and the song is about a subway graffiti artist. It’s set in New York by a band not from NY because of the energy and life of the city. It reminds me of the really unique and exciting things about NYC. It makes me feel more excited about being back.
So there you have it. A music post, something I haven’t done in a long time.
Oh! I also exchange my car keys from my pocket with the Metrocard from my purse. I do the reverse when I reach Baltimore. I could do that any time, but I am all about the rituals.