July 25, 2017
I’m Not Blacking Out, I’m Breaking Through
By Scott Taylor
#8: ‘The Solution’
Hey everyone, time for another one of these things! In the interest of keeping it real behold the latest installment of ‘I’m Not Blacking Out, I’m Breaking Through’ wherein we shall ponder ‘The Solution’, a cornerstone track from 2010’s Tell Me When You Can’t Breathe.
It’s always something, I’m not gonna lie
I am really pissed off right now and trying hard to hold myself together. It’s damn difficult not to look around me everywhere and feel intense animosity toward and utter contempt for the sickness masquerading as humanity polluting my soul and eroding my sanity to the point of critical mass. No joke, I am sincerely struggling to avert a total meltdown right now in my life. I’ve always tried to be honest with you guys when I write these so I’m not about to switch my pitch up now, especially not now.
Okay, perhaps I should back up for a sec. Before I relate my current personal duress to this piece I’ll provide a little background concerning what spawned this song which feels ever so timely at present. It may seem positive at first glance, but I’m not so sure it really is.
In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The Crack-Up" (1936)
'It'll all work out,' self-confidence pep talk or bullshit delusional mantra? That’s a tough one and I’m the guy who wrote the song. It’s sorta like how I’ve wondered since I was young why I’ve felt so old my whole life, but whatever. Well, at the particular juncture from whence this tune originated I was twenty-five years old. It was late summer, 2001. About a year had transpired since I broke up with a girl I really loved. I was still heartbroken as hell, feeling defeated and perpetually beating myself down further. Songs had been erupting from me at a furious pace during that time and my mind was a mess of twisted thoughts and mixed emotions. I partied aimlessly and dangerously. Too much was never enough to numb the pain I felt.
It seemed like it was night all the time whether or not the sun was actually up. The days all bled together and though I somehow managed to struggle through day to day responsibilities I’m still surprised how many people didn’t realize how fucked up I really was. Maybe they did, I don’t really know, but to me it seemed it had to be obvious as hell. Anyway, it was daybreak again. I was still awake, nearly catatonic after a long day and night of partying myself stupid with friends. I should explain that everyone else was drinking to have a good time and I guess we did have fun out on Lake St. Clair the previous afternoon prior to the party winding up at my place as it so often did. Long after everyone else had passed out I was once more all alone; me, my guitar and a dead soldier resting between my knees as I struggled to stave off the inevitable hangover already rearing its ugly head. The sun was coming up, but I was going down.
Look me in the eye and tell me that I’m satisfied…I’m so, I’m so unsatisfied
- The Replacements ('Unsatisfied,' 1984)
Thankfully, as always music was the light fighting to punch its way free of the void. As I had become accustomed to in such moments of delirium, an errant riff and melody floated into my screwed up head from out of the ether. I swear, sometimes I just start strumming and humming without thinking and something pure (however unintelligible) comes out and occasionally, it doesn’t half suck. This little mumble session found me chanting “love, love, love” in a deadpan, sing-songey manner; like a sarcastic piss-take on a Beatles/hippie vibe. I’d look around in the world and it seemed like everyone else was happy all the time and that pissed me off. I felt subhuman, like not a real person who counts like everybody else. I was lost and apathetically spiteful. The other phrase I kept rolling over intermittently was “it’ll all work out.” These words spilled out more like a question than an affirmation (I’ll be alright…right?). And so went another stab out of many bullshit attempts at trying to convince myself to hang in there.
But, that’s only part of the story…
A couple weeks following my bleary-eyed, early morning, regressive, personal nightmare jam, another kind of nightmare unfurled. If you’ve done the math from the timeline I’ve laid out so far you probably already know what I’m talking about. September 11th was a national nightmare and that’s a gross understatement. The repercussions continue to reverberate as we speak, yet the intensity of the heartbreak we all experienced seems unfathomably somewhere way off in the distant past. In some ways this is a good thing, I suppose. You have to heal to move forward and you have to move forward to heal. There are far too many ways to illustrate how things have gotten much worse since that awful morning, but I’m not even gonna go there right now. Suffice it to say that at the time the event just seemed unreal, like a movie. It felt like the end of the world.
A few days later, the tragedy still so fresh, it was impossible to make sense of all the madness. I struggled desperately to drown out the noise and chaos around me by reaching inside to try and purge some of my own. I guess out of curiosity or convenience I started fucking with that riff again to see if I could channel any of my frustration into a lyric that might help let off some steam and keep me from boiling over. Within about 45 minutes I had the song completed in pretty much the form it eventually appeared in the released version. It was like a self-help song hopping aboard a bullet train with a one way ticket to hell.
Who needs an answer?
I just couldn’t resolve any of the pain in my personal life and now this national crisis only added insult to injury. Why couldn’t we return to how things were on September 10th? Was there any way to go back and change it? No. Why didn’t Alecia call me back that week when she said she would? Could I still possibly change her mind even though a year had passed since she broke up with me, get her to realize it was a mistake? No. Of course, I was the mistake. I was the defective human. She never said that, no one ever said that. My own inner voices sure did though. It got me thinking how it’s like the chicken and the egg thing – did my experiences wreck me or did I precipitate my own pain because I was already inherently damaged from the get go?
No one ever calls me and if they do it’s probably backward, me calling you
Now THAT’S some sarcasm! See, friends used to tease me about how when people called I seldom answered. Even if I was sitting right there I’d just let the answering machine get it, thus the “…it’s probably backward…” bit whereby I intended to insinuate that I never call. Admittedly this sounds a little confusing - I meant it as kind of a pun – but I was WAY confused, so…
I can’t remember why she said she’d call me and anyway it doesn’t matter now any more than it did then, but I was forlorn; I probably just wanted to hear her voice. Even though she’d moved out of town we were still in contact. It sucked. She was still so nice to me, but now that our relationship had ceased to be a romantic one I was literally sick to my stomach (the pit of my stomach being where my broken heart had landed). Eventually I couldn’t talk to her anymore, which in a way made me very sad. She really was a great person, but I was hurting too much; out of sight, out of mind, so to speak. To answer Todd Rundgren’s question, NO you cannot still be friends.
Don’t let ‘em get you
At this point you’re reading this going “jeez, this guy’s an obsessive freak, get over it already!” I assure you I did, although it took a long time and quite possibly poisoned my next relationship. Word to the wise: if you have a new love in your life don’t let the ghost of that other girl overshadow the beautiful one right in front of you. She doesn’t deserve that and neither do you. When you can’t let go and the other person has moved on you’re only punishing yourself and it won’t magically put things back the way they were. Sometimes things last, sometimes they don’t.
It’s like speculating what could have been done to prevent the towers from being hit or who did it or why. No matter what exactly happened I think we can all agree it was crazy and we’ll probably never know the truth. Nothing will change the fact that all those people died tragically. It’s hard to be brave and stand tall when you’re frightened and in total shock. It’s even harder to hold a memory in your heart and, at the same time, learn to let go.
I’m not really bitter
So, was I trying to convince everyone else to hang in there, or me, or both? Who cares? Right now I feel as hopeless as ever about myself and the world. This summer has sucked total ass for me. Between my van being broken down, my mail getting stolen, my pain in the neck (literally) and my kitty not feeling so good, not to mention accidentally hitting and killing that baby deer out on Highway 101 and finally, my freakin’ iPod having issues (that was like, the LAST straw), nothing has been going right. (Oh yeah, and then there’s the damn kids staying in the ‘Airbnb’ apartment in my house who have been in the backyard hanging out all hours of the day and night and won’t shut the fuck up!). My universe is basically a never ending tumbling row of dominos.
It certainly doesn’t help that our government is fucked and every other person I see appears to be either a tweaker zombie or a cell phone zombie. I can hear y’all now going “bitch, bitch, bitch…” It’s just that everything seems horribly disconnected and out of balance. I feel lost and from where I stand, so is everyone else. I apologize for generalizing, but it blows my mind how the world has gotten smaller and somehow we’re drifting further apart than ever.
There’s never an answer
Y’know, come to think of it maybe things are not fundamentally that far off from the way they were way back in ’01 (except for the text crazy zombies; fuck that shit!). We’re all just trying to survive another day. Perhaps there’s no point to anything? Oh well, “same as it ever was” (Talking Heads, ‘Once In A Lifetime,’ 1980).
The solution is: there is no solution.
So that about wraps it up for this episode of INBOIBT. Yeah, this one wasn’t exactly a ray of sunshine, but I warned ya! (Hey, if it’s sunshine you want then go outside and get some). Seriously though, thanks for hangin’ with me and reading this. I got a bit long-winded, but it felt really good to get this stuff off my chest. Now go and be excellent to each other and remember:
It’ll all work out
I've got to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
- The Beatles ('Getting Better,' 1967)
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