I’ve clocked a lot of iPod time lately instead of reading time. My new job (!) is usually just me hanging out at the computer doing computer stuff, so music is necessary for my sanity. I’ve been downloading a lot of good stuff lately, thanks to deals from Amazon and this lovely new thing called Freegal that is cropping up at libraries here and there. So I’ve added some Neko Case, Vanessa Carlton, Ingrid Michaelson, and more to my library. But no matter how much music I accumulate, I tend to glom onto certain albums and listen to them excessively, until I am sure of which songs are my favorites and until I imagine myself inside the album and live and swim in it and just love it unconditionally and forever.
I do this mostly with albums that are by bands or duos where two people are pretty much equally the lead singer. It’s especially my favorite when it’s a male and female voice because it feels really intimate, which I admit is rather heteronormative and not actually very fair, but hey, I grew up in America. Also, the Pierces go onto my list of duos I can listen to forever, and they’re sisters.
Anyway. Bands/albums I listen to way too much because I love the dual quality of the lead vocal: Jenny and Johnny’s I Am Having Fun Now, anything by the Pierces, a lot of Rilo Kiley’s Under the Blacklight (okay, I also have a Jenny Lewis fetish), most stuff by Stars, same with She & Him, and the latest album I’ve added to that list is the Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow.
I always say that I would drop out of school in a second if I could just be a bar singer, and I’m not really lying. But another thing I would drop all other things for is a really good musical partner. Because what a lot of the abovementioned groups do really well, especially the Pierces and the Civil Wars, is craft harmonies so intricate that you could never, ever turn the song into a solo, and in some, you can’t even really find a melody, because it exists through not being sung, because the other voices wrap around the melody so that it’s implied instead. And that is awesome. If that’s not the musical equivalent to really good sex, there isn’t one.
It’s not just that those are all really fabulous, interesting albums. I think it’s also the fantasy element. Maybe because I’ve never been someone with just ONE close friend (this is not a pity party post; I have lots of close friends, I was just never one to say that any one person was my one and only) and I have only not been single for four months of my 23 1/2 years, or maybe it’s that I generally prefer or tend to be slightly unhappy and wistful (makes for a better imagination and more motivation to be creative, for sure), but it’s always seemed to me that perhaps looking for this kind of soulmatemanship is more feasible and attainable than my ever tolerating anyone who also tolerates me. It would certainly be more interesting and rewarding and challenging, especially since being artistic is quite a moody process, and I like being moody, and having a really tumultuous, moody, dysfunctional but creatively fulfilling and hopefully sexy relationship with someone seems like the best I can hope for. And that’s both because I’m far from a socially normal person who is capable of interacting with someone on a date (or to get a date) (see: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl) and because I like to be challenged and a little bit frustrated. Anyway, the idea of being totally happy fills me with terror. So when two really great voices sing about the trials and triumphs of love and shit, it fills me with that kind of wistful sadness that makes me “happy.” Or something. Whatever. Go with it. And listen to those albums.