Life makes more sense with pop music.
Life makes more sense with pop music. That’s why I’ve gone back, year by year, and chronicled the song that meant the most to me then. This song may not have been released that year, it may not have been big that year, but it wasrelevant to me in a personal way that defines that period of my life.
Also, I didn’t do too much research to make sure I got these years right. This is my life, after all, and if I confuse 1998 with 1999, well, that’s my right.
1999: “I’m Not Afraid to Die” by Gillian Welch
Like “Unsatisfied,” I became obsessed with “I’m Not Afriad to Die” while working in the darkroom. This time, though, I was not in the darkroom at Rhodes, but in my own private set-up that I had cobbled together from disused equipment and hand-me downs. I was working on a sizeable project—printing the fifteen rolls of underexposed film I had brought back from my victorious time in Europe a year and a half earlier. I was listening to some dreary music: Elliot Smith’s XO, Belle and Sebastian’s The Boy with the Arab Strap, and this album, Gillian Welch’s Hell Among the Yearlings. Hell, I listened to it so much that I still refer to this period as the “I’m-not-afraid-to-die spring of 1999.”
That spring was not a fun time. None of my favorite things made me happy: not music, watching baseball, writing, reading, taking pictures, spending time with my friends, or going to class. Everything was off, and I was having strange moments of helplessness and confusion, where I literally did not know what to do with myself. This wasn’t normal teenage self-pity I was feeling. This was something different.
Thankfully, the spring turned into summer and things began looking up. I finished my darkroom project and tore the aluminum foil from my windows. Gillian Welch herself came to Memphis and dispelled some of the gloom with a glorious show at Newby’s on Highland. A few weeks thereafter, I moved to Baltimore with some friends, and began a year-long adventure with them. College finally ended And those strange fits of nerves that I was experiencing in the darkroom started to ease. A few years later I realized that what I was suffering from was a bad case of anxiety attacks. Ever since then, I’ve known what they are and have never allowed them to cause such havoc in my life.
The “I’m-not-afraid-to-die spring of 1999” did not last forever. I’m glad that time is behind me, but every once in a while I put this song on and go back