13.6.12

Seven Life Lessons Gleaned from Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, pt. 2/side B



BY ELIZABETH BARKER (ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY)
(read pt. 1 here)

SULK LIKE YOU MEAN IT. Last year on Neiler's birthday it rained and I tweeted: "Neil Young made it rain today." Neil Young's birthday is November 12; he's a Scorpio. I like to pay special attention to him in the fall, his birthdaytime, when the air's changing from golden and crispy and apple-orchard-y to gray and rough and raw and mean (or, more precisely, when the weather's changing from "Van Morrison" to "Nirvana"). Neiler weather is somewhere in the middle, not quite autumnal but not really blistery. "The Losing End" is the quintessential Neiler-weather jam and when it rained on Neiler's birthday last year I ate "harvest grain" pancakes and drank like eight buckets of coffee and had a chill writing sesh at IHOP, sulked and skulked and moped around a lot and then drove over to Laurel Canyon and killed some famous people. It was a good day. I'm generally allergic to sulking, but it's nice to bask in Neiler weather, when you're right in the gloomy thick of another Neiler season.

DON'T STEP ON THE MOME RATHS. I can't touch "Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)"; it's too fragile a flower, with that tragical violin and the most poetically assembled cluster of words so nobly confined to parenthesis in the subtitle. If Neil were a flower he'd be a mome rath, from Alice in Wonderland. I love the mome raths, how they're so introverted and benevolent. They look like flowers, Neil Young, and pants.





BE THE SONG YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD. Once upon a time, "Cowgirl in the Sand" helped me through a heartbreak. I was in love with a boy who liked me just fine but not nearly enough: he didn't want me to be his cinnamon girl. Driving home from a bar one night, I heard "Cowgirl in the Sand" for the first time; they were playing it on 95.5 KLOS. I loved it instantly and intensely and very soon afterward started writing again, a never-finished story where a girl kidnaps her boyfriend kind of and then they drive up a mountain and throw whiskey bottles off the side. Around the same time I also took my first trip to Colorado and rode a horse for the first time, then came home with the idea that I should move to Colorado, or at least buy a pair of cowboy boots. So I bought a pair of cowboy boots, which are earthy-brown and oily and beautiful, and started wearing them almost every single day. I felt different wearing them -- I felt cool and mysterious and more like myself. I felt like they immediately announced, "I AM A GIRL WHO LOVES NEIL YOUNG," which is a good announcement to make. I started going to the Venice Beach boardwalk at dusk a lot, just to walk around and listen to Neil Young and feel really impressed with myself for being the only woman in the history of the world to wear cowboy boots on a beach. I was still so heartbroken, but at least everything looked different for a little while.


I don't do that sort of thing nowadays, the walking-around-Venice-Beach-with-Neil-Young-and-cowboy-boots thing, because I don't need it anymore. I don't need to think to myself, "I am Neil Young's cowgirl in the sand," because I just am. That song is mine because it's dreamy-aggro, with its moony lyrics and the scrapey guitars, and because I'm dreamy-aggro too: I'm all into the ocean and the moon and the stars and I'm always drinking rose petal tea and gazing wistfully at the pink Los Angeles sky and shit, but I'm also cranky as hell, Jack White-level cranky, and I think lots of people are filthy jerks and I don't often have an easy time hiding that. I'll never outgrow "Cowgirl in the Sand," but there are so many other songs I'd like to grow into, like:


"Suffragette City" by David Bowie
"Houses of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin
"Purr" by Sonic Youth
"Ballroom Blitz" by The Sweet


I also think it would be chill to "Stoned Soul Picnic" by Laura Nyro for a couple days a week every week, and "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys for a couple hours every day (at least for the time being).


For the summer I'd like to be "Carmencita" by Devendra Banhart, "Summertime Rolls" by Jane's Addiction, and maybe, for a week or two, "I'm That Type of Guy" by LL Cool J.


Driving down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood during rush hour last Tuesday, I decided it would be cool to be the bassline from "Epistle to Dippy." Lately I've also been gunning for a woman-that-Mick-Jagger-saw-today-at-the-reception sort of inscrutability, and I'm sure I've achieved it at a few key moments.

I am always "Fixing a Hole" by The Beatles, and also:


"Nirvana" by Juliana Hatfield
"Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" by Bruce Springsteen
"Secrets" by Van Halen
"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" by Bob Dylan
"Here Comes My Girl" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers


I always want to be "7 and 7 Is" by Love, and sometimes I absolutely am.


But more than anything I want to be "Amoreena" by Elton John, "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile" by Van Morrison, and "When You Dance I Can Really Love" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the Live Rust version:



4 comments:

  1. God, being songs is such a good idea.

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  2. "Jack White-level cranky" is such a good phrase. As the crankiest person I know I'd much rather be Jack White-level cranky than standard old man cranky.

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    1. thanks! recognizing jack white's unfettered crankiness was a really important step in my development as a human

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  3. Right now I want to be "Going to Acapulco" Bob Dylan. Possibly "River Song" Dennis Wilson.

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