When You Sleep: An Evening With “Loveless”

reposting because I enjoy it…

sleep like a pillow / downward / and where she won’t care anywhere / soft as a pillow, touch her there / where she won’t dare / Somewhere / sleep like a royal subject / think that you grew / stronger there…

loveless.

…and so we begin, the usual supplies ready for tonight’s entertainment: two freshly-rolled joints, their unmistable scent filling my mood-lit bedroom; headphones, the big puffy kind, the ones that wrap-around your ears, the ones that lock you – no key, no running, no escape, it’s better this way, it’s better this way, you can trust me, dear reader, it would hurt me so to lie to you, you can trust me — in a prison of your own design, a beautiful Eden of lush tones and beautiful passion, pure, barely-cooked, all the passion of a crushing-guitar punching you in a chest to the extent that you feel your heart is about to stop beating — it’s better this way (like I said, like I said, it would hurt me to lie to you, oh sweet reader-friend of mine); two MORE freshly-rolled joints, their unmistakable scent filling my mood-lit bedroom, these ones for the halfway point of my descent into Loveless; and, for my maximum comfort on my sonic journey, I have a rug at the foot of my bed, separating my heavenly indie-rock feather bed from the hybrid stereo-bookcase – mostly books, as you can tell by my pretentious, ornamental way of writing – that dominates my room. You could say that my stereo-bookcase is the center of my Universe, a messy Universe, books by Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac and Roberto Bolano placed amongst the hydrogen and helium and carbon of a chaotic, uncaring Universe, holding together my spiral galaxies of dog-eared vinyl copies of Bringing It All Back Home and Trout Mask Replica…I tend to ramble when I’m tripping through the little worlds I’ve constructed around myself, but, I’m sure you haven’t noticed my tendency to ramble with passion and bedroom-floor navel-gazing (which happens to be where I am, headphones on, about to push play…but only after I fish my Zippo from the piles of books that make up little skyscrapers around my bedroom floor…my brain works best when I’m swimming in chaos, when the worlds of all the artists I love & admire can surround me just as much I like to surround the people I love in endless chains of words…there I go rambling again…sorry, folks…)…

…and here we are now, I, your humble friend & writer, looking up at the ceiling from my comfy rug sandwiched between the end of the bed and the beginning of the bookshelf…I am in love. I am here. I am Jackson Williams, lost in his own world. It’s just too comfortable to abandon, dear readers…

I can sketch out the shapes that cut the plaster-ceiling into endless patterns, and this I do when the first drum-blasts come kickin’ in, a triumphant crescendo opener known as “Only Shallow” and that first joint is lit and Loveless begins to fill my brain with its lush warmth, and from here I drift away into the red mist that surrounds you when you keep your eyes closed. Close them, hold them tight, picture that album cover matching the images that are swirling around in your head with that controlled hornets nest of guitars spiraling, spiraling around you, this is the whirl that fills your heart to the point of breaking down completely, brain-shattering guitar-symphonies, and you’re hooked O God you’re hooked and you’ve heard nothing like this in your short life ever…and this is good, your heartstrings are being plucked just right, so, so right, and now you understand all the joys that can be found in being lost to the world, why people like me are always smiling all the time when they’re in the middle of a daydream, and all we can hope is to be lost even further, further down this pink-and-lush-red mist rabbit hole that My Bloody Valentine constructed way back in 1991.

Lots of ink – both literal and digital – has been spilled over this album, and by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m doing just that except with far less direction. Ink has been spilled over how complex it is, how it “drove Kevin Shields to the point of madness” (if you can believe musical-mythology, which as a rule you never can), how it’s the best album of the 1990s/one of the greatest albums ever/an artistic punch to the throat (…and heart), how it’s a difficult listen which, of course, makes sense considering how much ink has been spilled illustrating just how complex it was to create Loveless to begin with, how the epic recording sessions brought My Bloody Valentine to a breaking point – emotionally, spiritually, artistically, etc. etc. — while bankrupting the recording label that bank-rolled the recording sessions. Everyone interested in the mythology of American music knows that most of what you hear is (basically) bullshit, probably because most of the sources are either dead or dying or are what we refer to as an “unreliable narrator.” You can blame the drugs for this, not to mention the seething anger & frustration that can arise out of a shared artistic endeavor. This is a natural occurrence, especially if you’ve spent time around bands. I’ve spent many, many hours overseeing rehearsals and recording sessions. It’s a frustrating experience. Every artist ever – writer, musician, painter, basket-weaver – knows this. And it’s up to the journalists/professional rock critics to sort the bullshit from the truth.

I am not either of those things. I am not a journalist or a critic. Tried both of these professions, hated them both. I respect them, and I guess that matters for something. I’m just a fan, a breed of fan you would call a “head.” An obsessive, a junkie, a kid who buys vinyl for posterity’s sake. I care about the music and the ride it takes your soul on. That’s all. I don’t write reviews – this is not a review. I write musings, connections, the feeling of this music we love so much. I write about the experience.

Which is brings up back to me, your humble, faithful narrator: on the floor, headphones playing Loveless as loud as they can handle, head resting on a pillow of my interlocked-fingers, a smile plastered across my face as I study the lines of my white ceiling, a blank canvas to throw these guitar-noises that grip my heart & mind and watch them dance amongst the peaks and valleys of the ceiling-plaster, and I am lost in all my happiness. I am lost in the art, in the music, in the sheer complexities of this wall-of-sound, the storm of guitar-noises…this avante-garde spirit that has driven me as a writer since the age of eight. I respect the artists that push the envelope & take us to new places – I’m talking James Joyce & that mindfuck Ulysses, Lenny Bruce, Jeff Mangum, John Lennon/every Beatles album post-1965, Virginia Woolf, artists that wanted to take the feelings that violently rumble in their hearts and use experimental form – stuff we’re not used to, stuff that frightens the average reader/listener/viewer, that challenges us and takes us to places we didn’t even know we wanted to go – to lead us there. The rebel-angels of the art world. Spirit like Thomas Wolfe & David Foster Wallace & Miles Davis. The dare & wherewithal to challenge the status quo. This holy mission drives my writing, too – I’ve spent most of my “literary life” experimenting, trying new things, searching for ways to get my point across while making the reader feel like they’ve come across something revolutionary (“revolutionary” being a strong-word / I personally believe I’m a horrible writer…) and new and modern and, even while being over-the-top, rings true, like I spent all afternoon just waiting to shoot you in the head. Does that make sense? No?? Oh well, okay, nevermind…

Two joints are down, the third is being lit, and now I’m circling back around sleep like a pillow / downward / and where she won’t care anywhere / soft as a pillow, touch her there / where she won’t dare / Somewhere / sleep like a royal subject / think that you grew / stronger there to the very first track, “Only Shallow,” that bombastic rush of blood to the head. I’ll always go back & revisit the songs that stick with me more than the others. This is normal behavior, sure, I just like to experience my normal behavior through the prism of my brain saturated in THC. (I’m an Oregonian. Go away.) After “Only Shallow” has finished with its ‘symphonic bombast,’ I skip ahead to the whirling, endlessly pretty “When You Sleep.” It is a love story submerged in frenetic, fiery guitar noise, so fiery that it begins to sound like the moonlight wailing of two lovers locked in passionate, frantic lovemaking, a guitar pretending to be a high-pitched Casio keyboard mimicking the wail of the triumph of love – warm, gooey, safety found in watching the love of your life sleep under the light of a lamp that has one bulb going out, the room bathed in the golden, failing light – this is classic love, safety & security found in knowing they’re safe in the Tomorrowland of their dream-states, and, if you have to, you will stay up until dawn, you as their watchful protector, in love enough to turn their eyes into lighthouses scanning the stormy seas of an infinite night for ships in the harbor, guiding them away from the rocks….

And so joint numero four has been lit, and the volcanic slumber that lies beneath “Sometimes” is calling me to sleep, begging me to rise up off of this floor and face Tomorrowland in all its glory. Close my eyes / feel me now / I don’t know how you could not love me now….and I hit repeat, reader to be carried away. But it has already happened. Loveless spins on into oblivion. I could sleep on this floor all night.

I probably will.

I definitely will.

I know nothing about tomorrow. I know nothing about sleep. I am Loveless, and tomorrow may my galaxy spin closer to yours. I will make it happen.

I probably will.

I know nothing about tomorrow. I know nothing about sleep. I am Loveless, and tomorrow may my galaxy spin closer to yours. I will make it happen.

I definitely wont.

Jackson Williams.

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