Let Me Show You
by Emma
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Titus Andronicus - "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future"
Titus Andronicus - "Fatal Flaw"

- I have this real bad habit I need to get rid of. Every once in a while, if I'm having an off-day, someone will ask how I am and I'll go: "Fine! I just need someone to push me down a flight of stairs."

- Here's the thing: people do not always love it when you say this, especially when it's not clear how much you are kidding.

- Have you heard the new Titus Andronicus record yet? I do a thing with this band where I'll kinda forget about them for a while, and then they somehow manage to show back up in my life at exactly the right moment.

- They have a lot of songs about depression, which is a really easy thing to write about and a really hard thing to write about well. There are different kinds of honesty. For example: the way these two songs conflate drug dealers with pharmacists might seem, at first glance, a little heavy-handed - but then again, maybe only to someone who's never found themselves in the centre of that particular Venn diagram. If you know it, it's just true.

- It's human nature, I think, to want to organize messy concepts into straightforward narratives; give something an arc and you can trace it start to finish. With a lot of mental illness the compulsion is to talk in terms of disaster and redemption, rock bottom and steep climb: you're either the worst you've ever been or you're working really really hard to get better.

- And this isn't necessarily bad or wrong! Sometimes that story is your story. Other times you might walk around feeling paralyzed by all the ways you've failed to live it out. Either way, it's present. But there's another part of it, a territory that exists beyond those stories about highest/lowest points.

- If you're unlucky enough to be freighted with a chemical imbalance but lucky enough to have figured out some tricks for mediating the impact it has on your day-to-day (like, say, taking the right drugs and avoiding the wrong ones), you sometimes get to unlock this secret and wildly unsexy Major Depressive Bonus Level that's just all about managing. There's no narrative octane in this one, no shine - it's just the part where you've figured out, through relentless trial and error, a series of checks and balances that (for a while, at least) might somehow help to keep the sickness from driving every single aspect of your life.

- It's incredibly fortunate to stumble into this territory, and also very tedious. You know that schmaltzy pamphlet-phrase you hear sometimes - Living With Depression? It's that, but instead of a chorus of howling ghosts your depression's just a shitty, boring roommate.

- One of these songs is called "Fatal Flaw," as in the thing that ends up being your downfall, and the other's called "No Future," as in The End. But the trick, I think, is that they're both a little bit about another thing.

- There are different kinds of honesty. Like, no, smart guy, I don't want someone to literally push me down the literal stairs - but there are still days when you feel trapped inside and outside yourself at the same time. Days where you are technically maintaining, but also so numb to the world that you feel not like a person in a body but a ghost piloting a blimp but also somehow so sensitive to everything that even the tiniest details can bruise the inside of your skull for weeks.

- How do you explain how normal this is, and how terrible, and how completely okay? That it's not disastrous or redemptive, not the beginning or the end, it's just your day? That it burns a hole in your chest sometimes and that's fine but it's not but it is? How do you explain wanting so badly for someone you love to know all this about you, and also wanting more than anything to hide it from them? The riot of helplessness and elation that you feel, some days, just walking around in the fucking grocery store or whatever? How could you ever even begin to build a structure to contain all this sprawling, unimpressive chaos?

- Some songs work real hard to bend around you, to weave themselves into your changing moods, to be the soundtrack for whole months of your life.

- And some songs just do what they do and stay there, keeping at it, waiting for you to need them for an hour or a day.

- The word "anthemic" comes up a lot when people talk about Titus Andronicus, and of course it's the guitars or whatever. But there's something else an anthem does: defines a territory, reminds you where you are. I can't think of a band that plays the tug-of-war between resignation and defiance with quite the same degree of expertise and searing, cringing, singalong honesty as this one.

- Titus Andronicus are not my all-time favourite band, but "No Future Part Three" was, for a very long time, the most-played song on my iTunes, and "Fatal Flaw" is all I've listened to all day. When you need something, you need it. There are different kinds of honesty. Sometimes you want to be reminded of where you are; sometimes you want someone to tell you that they've been there too. And sometimes you want a song to push you down the stairs - to be waiting at the bottom, arms outstretched, when you come to.

[buy The Monitor + The Most Lamentable Tragedy]

Posted by Emma at September 13, 2015 12:03 AM

This is what I needed today, and always.

Posted by blayze at September 13, 2015 5:07 PM


Posted by Michelle at September 15, 2015 4:58 PM

Emma, you're just so fucking good.

Posted by Amelia at September 18, 2015 4:50 PM

Who does the depression belong to?

Posted by Rebecca at October 8, 2015 11:27 AM

Post a comment

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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