The Raincoats

It feels almost taboo to listen to The Raincoats. They sing in forbidden voices. Their beats, for reasons I cannot articulate but that I can feel in my belly, are created by and for women. The guitars and strings are adventurous. No, that is not quite right; rather, they take the listener on an adventure. And lastly, and once again for reasons I cannot articulate (I worry that my readers will get sick of hearing me say that but it is difficult to translate the inner experience of sounds to words!), they make me feel like I’m listening in on them rather than listening to them.

Indeed, I imagine them playing for themselves and a few friends in the living room of an old house while I lie alone in the attic, ear pressed to the floorboards, taking in every second of the odd, heartfelt, unfettered, gorgeous wildness of their music. I shouldn’t be allowed to listen. I’m halfway ashamed but I can’t help myself. I listen. I listen breathlessly. Gratefully. Happily. With tears streaming down my cheeks.

Part of what makes The Raincoats so extraordinary is that they are in some ways so ordinary. None of them possess any sort of technical mastery over their instruments. They sound primitive. They are free from the pressure of playing things “the right way”. They are free from the male posturing that inevitably impacts the sound of so much music. That is it: freedom. Their lack of technical knowledge allows them a broader palate; it gives the music an extraordinary purity. The ordinariness gives birth to something extraordinary.

(It is funny. The Raincoats make me think of a close friend who I don’t think would even like their music. Someone who I believe, in many ways, belongs to the wilderness. Who I can so easily imagine running through the trees barefoot while howling wildly. Someone who, when she dances, dances to her own rhythms.)

We can wax poetic about music and yet, at the end of the day, I know that music is something quite visceral. It moves you or it doesn’t. Yet it is so human to want to communicate our joy and passion. Our pain and sadness. So maybe this is my way of doing that today. My way of sharing with those I love passionately something I love passionately.

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A beauty only loved at night
At daytime a face full of marks
Her eyes have been in flames all night
The sun won’t have eyes for her again
Only loved at night, the lady in the dark

Knew the size of tall buildings
How dear a day-kiss could be
Those buildings that saw all the airplanes
That kissed the air in vain fantasy
Only loved at night, the lady in the dark

Didn’t her eyes reflect all of this?
Why couldn’t they look into her eyes?
Didn’t each night love her another time?
Male nights and sometimes female

Boys loved her at night
Girls loved her in the dark

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