On My Mind
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.


The Tragically Hip - "In Sarnia"

First, and most importantly: this song is very, very beautiful. It sounds like a dream of being underwater, or it sounds like one of the top five most wistful summer nights of your life. This song is deep deep deep blue and last night, biking home along the overpass, I had to pull over to the side and stop, with the cars all streaming past me, just because of how it felt to look at the late sunset and remember this song at the same time.

Lately, in between the bouts of horrible news, I have been talking to my friends about helplessness; the sense of being overcome, incapable, when bad things seem to be happening all around you, in front of your face and completely out of reach. Of all the shitty feelings out there in this life, this one might burn the hardest; the sense that the world is coming apart, or that you yourself are on fire, and the only thing you can do about it is just sit there and wait to be consumed. It is very hard to live inside this feeling. It might be the hardest one.

I have listened to this song like eight or nine times now, and each time I feel more and more strongly that I don't know how to hear it right. I don't know how to listen to an album by someone who has a kind of brain cancer that is only supposed to get worse. Especially not when that person is someone I don't know but who has taken up space in my life since my childhood; especially when their songs feel as frenzied and loose and confident and hopeful as the ones on Man Machine Poem all do. Every time I've listened to this song I have felt knocked sideways by an enormous wave of pure feeling, but I do not feel capable of naming its constituent parts for you; I can't tell my sentiments from my thoughts, or its hope from my sadness from those sparkling guitar-sounds.

Here's what I've got so far: I think I am thankful that this song exists, and I think that it is hard to be always up to the challenges of being alive and paying attention in a world that sometimes (often) throws a mess of bad news at your feet and then just sits there waiting for you to untangle and learn or change or break against it. I think there is something to be learned from the feeling that swells in my ribcage every time I am made to see life for what it is: precarious and ungoverned by logic or fairness, lovely and terrible as a handful of lit matches. That lesson feels endless and impossible, but if I ever figure it out, I promise I will let you know.

[buy Man Machine Poem]

Posted by Emma at June 19, 2016 5:19 PM

thank you for putting the same feelings i have been having all week into words. The last paragraph describes it PERFECTLY, and my processing doesnt feel so much like flaying around anymore....

Posted by kat at June 20, 2016 8:25 AM

Oh jeezo, this one got me - how it sounds as if he's singing his own song over music that would be crashing down around him anyway, and sometimes it works, but it's accidental, and most of the time it's only hanging together because all of us listening are willing it together, to make it through to that next moment of clarity. And this is what I love about STG - I wouldn't have heard any of this without knowing your take on it. But the right song, at the right moment, with the right words, and it the whole thing opens up like an origami flower I can't unfold. Thank you!

Posted by Ryan Vance at June 20, 2016 5:26 PM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
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.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
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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