and I can hear 'em

Saturday, August 23, 2008


probably one of our most self loathing songs. it's easier to be this obvious when you're younger. age makes you want to hide such feelings, or at least be more cryptic, unfortunately sometimes. hard to play now without feeling like a cry-baby. i'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Oh Alan, I know how you feel - do I ever! August has been a mercilessly busy month, and also the closest I've had to a vacation in a while, but I am surprisingly eager to get back to things, even if various factors (not least of which is my impending search for a new job, I think) mean this will still be a gradual process. I'm trying to do this semi-systematically, though, and so I noted that it'd been a while since I did anything from Low's debut. While looking at Alan's notes on the few I haven't covered, I stumbled upon the above - and it so intrigued me that I forgot for a second that I couldn't hum "Drag" to you if you held a gun to my head.

This was further reinforced for me when I went to look up its lyrics, which are kept starkly minimalist on the site I usually use:

I'm sorry but I can't hold on
It works much better if I let it drag me around

I'm sorry if I'm losing ground
It works much better if I let it drag me around

Five and a quarter minutes, and that's what you get. It's kind of surprising, though, that Alan considered this their most self-loathing song, even at the time (pre-Trust). I guess to a certain mindset, that kind of admission of powerlessness feels horrible. I am thinking of someone I know who fainted recently and seemed to be mostly bothered by the notion that people would know they had fainted, rather than any possible medical problem, if that kind of connection makes any sense - the notion that we must be sturdily self-sufficient and in control at all times.

Of course, given some peoples' lives, and I would hazard Alan might qualify here, such a mindset might make perfect sense and might even be the only (psychologically) safe way to live. And if whatever is dragging you around could potential hurt yourself or others, then maybe self-loathing is what you feel when you get to the point where all you can do is warn others.

I do identify more with Alan's current, or more-current feelings about the song than the strained anguish in his voice during the song, though. To the extent that anything drags me around, it's not more strange or outsized or dangerous than my whims or emotions - I'd love to the kind of laconic person who embodies much of our culture's notion of cool, or a particular kind of cool, but I'm too talkative, intense, high-strung, verging-on-manic or whatever you want to call it (outgoing and funny is what my friends say, when they're feeling nice). I did used to be more self-conscious about my demeanour when I was younger (albeit not that much), and now that I'm an adult (27: the year Ian feels comfortable thinking of himself as an adult) I've begun, as I hope most people do, to feel less like I need to make an effort to change my personality and more like I should just accept who I am and, you know, enjoy that.

But age also makes you less likely to blurt out these things (at least when you're not drunk); when I do feel like I've talked too much or accidentally dominated a conversation or what have you, I no longer feel the need to apologize a bunch or fret to friends over whether so and so thought I was a huge geek or what have you. None of this is stuff that I think about; but as Alan says, you feel less of a need (or maybe less of an urge) to be this obvious and angsty about it, and I think (and hope) that's partly a result of feeling more at home in your own skin.

"Drag," the song, is pretty forgettable. There's some nice bass work, Mimi's dispassionate backing vocals on the 'chorus' (when they sing "drag me around" basically) are kind of interesting, and it's basically interchangeable with most of the other deep cuts on I Could Live in Hope. If I didn't have Alan's note about the song, I doubt I could have said much more than a paragraph about it.