The greatest #1: "New Partner"
|A new feature in which I'll write about some of my very favorite songs, albums, films and more.|
I have a packrat's heart. The idea of things disappearing for good scares me, so I have bags within bags of old notes and crushed letters, doodle-scarred spiral notebooks, corner-worn postcards from friends I've long lost touch with. I'll never look at them again, and if I do, I'll probably just experience the cognitive dissonance of meeting a very different me. Yet they're all still faithfully piled up in the basement, on the off-chance I ever do work up the nerve to look back.
Palace Music's "New Partner" is a song about hoarding too. Will Oldham practically has the weight of a landfill on his back, his voice so squashed and shaky-limbed, it's about to give way. He's no better at letting go of the past than me; in fact, it's hard to tell if he's even trying. And that, to me, is the central power of the song. Is Oldham's obsession with an old lover a celebration or a lament? Does he crave the pain it's causing him or miss the pleasure he used to receive? Is he ambivalent, tortured, wowed, guilty or undone? The answer on all counts is yes.
The past is a weight and a lesson; it's her thigh generously connecting with yours on a battered mattress in a dingy studio but it's also the screaming, crying, scratching matches that border on psychosis. The people we'd be smart to love don't resonate and the ones that inflict the most damage are the ones we can't exile from our minds. Sometimes, I wonder if I'd be better off throwing out all the junk I've accumulated and start over new like Oldham attempts. But it wouldn't matter--even when we move on, move away toward "the black-tinted sunset," we're still haunted and held down. Even as he boasts of riding away with his new partner, he can't help but carry his ghosts like so many cheap souvenirs.
* MP3: "New Partner" - Palace Music from Viva Last Blues [Buy it]