The Good Old Days

In 2004 I had about six months where I wrote a lot of good songs, a bad novel, watched a lot of silent movies and drank.  I also listened to the album Antics by Interpol.  I liked the whole album but became obsessed by the song C’mere.

It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves
The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else
It should be me. Oh, it should be me.

That, and wine, and the world of silent movies.  It was a weird place to be in.  I was depressed.  Like, actually depressed, but I didn’t know it.  In 2006 it hit again and this time the doctor told me what it was.  Depression.  It’s funny because it wasn’t being sad really, it was being drained of emotion with a gnawing dread that would rise sometimes to a ragged, choked off sob.

You said today, you know exactly how I feel
I have my doubts little girl
I’m in love with something real

The silent movies have stayed with me.  I retrospectively watched the whole genre arrive, and then settle into conventions, and then push into some amazingly creative and engaging forms before the arrival of sound killed it all off.  It’s easy to think that having sound is just better, but that ignores a fact that is important: silent films were a unique art form created and then killed by technology.  Silent films are kind of an exemplar of how limits can foster creativity.  Not being able to speak the directors became incredibly creative at telling complex, multi-layered stories without any words.  It was also a truly international art form as language was completely removed as a barrier (the few text cards could easily be translated) and so it was an industry that had pan-European contributions that could be consumed by any audience.  I still remember a large number of those movies I watched in a drunken, depressed stupor.

Oh, how I love you
And in the evening, when we are sleeping
We are sleeping. Oh, we are sleeping

And so we make time
We try to find somebody else

Later albums by Interpol have not been reviewed favourably but El Pintor is just as good as Antic and Turn on the Bright Lights.  They have a very specific sound.  The lyrics don’t quite scan.  The feel is deadpan and beautiful.  Much of the criticism is that they haven’t progressed much.  Not always a bad thing that.  Look at Arctic Monkey’s latest album.  I’ve been listening to El Pintor.  The first single from a new album is out now.  It sounds good.  By which I mean that it sounds exactly like an Interpol song.  I saw them live at the Hunter Lounge.  They were good.  A wall of sound and turn on the bright lights.  Afterwards I saw the bass player smoking a cigarette out by the back doors of the student union building.  He was handsome and wearing a suit.  I wanted to be him.  He didn’t see me.

The Shalimar Mini Market sold cheap cartons of wine to the homeless, bums and me.  It was definitely a place of ill repute.  The woman who worked there was brusque and sometimes shouted at people.  The man wore jerseys under his suit and seemed a little like an Indian Tom Jones, or a cat that had just been at the cream.  They must have mastered the art of not asking questions a long time ago.  I mean, no one needs that much wine that regularly.  Mind you, no one needs that many German or Russian silent films either.

Now season with health
Two lovers walk a lakeside mile
Try pleasing with stealth, Romeo
See what stands long ending fast

That lyric was the one that bothered me most.  It doesn’t really work.  And I changed one word to Romeo because that’s what I thought it was and it makes more sense.  Not that it does make sense.  One review I read of Interpol said they sound like Duran Duran.  I know what the reviewer means.  If you take Duran Duran at Rio.

This is all noise.  I’m talking to myself.  None of this matters.

A silent pantomime.

The first song I heard by Interpol was Obstacle 1.  It’s just music.  Yes, but it makes me feel good.  It binds me up.  It lets me out of myself.  I can pretend to be someone else, somewhere else.  Come on.  C’mere.

It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves
The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else
It should be me. Oh, it should be me.


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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō