Songs of the Week: Radiohead, Stephen Malkmus, Angel Locsin

Nostalgia, according to Wikipedia (a type of encyclopedia which doesn’t require any kind of lifting, reaching or walking to the bookshelf), is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. Nostalgia is associated with a yearning for the past, its personalities, possibilities, and events, especially the “good old days” or a “warm childhood”. And while I’m not really nostalgic for reading, browsing physical volumes of encyclopedia, this is about nostalgia.

Memories, moments, attached to music, songs, and whatnot. And while some would say nostalgia is bad, it could also be of good use, especially during times like these—times when you feel that this low level panic (brought by the pandemic and the longest lockdown in the world) is relentlessly coming at you. To find some strength, or hope perhaps. Yeah, whatever. I’m not crying. It’s just the onions. Well, a good cry could help too, sometimes. Like crying in movies. I was watching Moon last night. And while I already had an idea of what the movie really is about, I was a bit surprised and pleased with the movie’s ending. It was… kind of… optimistic, I guess?

Aubrey was her name

“And Aubrey was her name. I didn’t know her but I love her just the same.” Well, you never really get to know them, right? I’m not really sure but maybe, just maybe, if we really get to know them, it would burst your… this oh boy, she’s so perfect. Of course, maybe I’m just saying this because, y’know… (Hey, time to move on, man, and tell us about the songs). Okay, okay. OKAY! So while this song would eventually turned into that song, about the # 1 crush, puppy love, pussy love, whatever, whom you never really came to know in the end, this is about years before that.”

Probably one of my earliest memories associated with music. Maybe I was five then. Bread, The Carpenters, my mother love them mushy love songs. We were in the silong of my grandmother’s house, which was mostly wood, lumber, the floors were made of varnished bamboo splits and you could actually see through them, between the slits*. My mother she was making walis tingting out of the dried coconut leaves. Young me playing beside her and probably asked her what’s that song on the radio.

Tayo na sa Sineskwela

I haven’t really watched Sineskwela regularly because we didn’t have cable and we only had B&W TV. Not the TV being B&W had anything to do with it. It’s just that we’d have a TV for one year and then it would shut down and become unrepairable. Then, we don’t have TV for the next whole year. By the time we’d have TV again, we’d only get re-runs of the previous shows we already saw before. Things like that.

What this song really reminds me of, are those times when the only problem we had was that we didn’t have money (no problems about college, finding work, zero love life, or deadlines). And that we missed our grandlola so much. Because we were like “exiled” to this place where Christmas wasn’t really so special, and wasn’t as big as the yearly fiestas. And somehow the TV shows would remind us of those times before we lived far away from Grandmother’s. Yeah, let’s keep it vague. I really don’t have time to elaborate, don’t have time to edit this, and I’m clicking publish right away.

After the Gold Rush

Every year or every other year, we would go back to Lola Grandma’s place. Where they have TV, food, stuff, gifts. Some years during Christmas vacation, and some, during summer. And it was always sad when it’s time to go back. Back home where I’m not sure if I ever really felt home. Back to school. First year in high school was even harder. Most of the kids in class were rich. They have encyclopedia. And cable TV. And everyone watches MTV.

In most of those trips going from and back to Bicol, the bus driver would usually play soft folk and country music around 2 or 3 AM. After a few hours of sleep, you wake up to the numb feeling in your butt and legs, your dust-kissed oily face and the smell of people trapped like sardines in a non-airconditioned bus for more than eight hours. But then there’s the music: Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Croce’s “Operator” and James Taylor’s “Wandering”, and Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”. And I’d have these mixed feelings of nostalgia, serenity, and clarity that’s quite hard to explain.

Lady Picture Show

You know high school. You have different #1 crush each year. But not in this particular year. It was summer and I was at Grandma’s place and all I was crazy about were bands, basketball, and NU107. I’d listen to NU almost everyday. Collective Soul, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and one of my favorite that summer, Stone Temple Pilots’ “Lady Picture Show”. It was probably around the same time when there were tabloids floating around the house, and there was one with pictures of naked Rosanna Roces in it. The song was from the album Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop.

True Love Waits

There’s just something about finally being able to listen to the music you wished to listen to for a long time. It’s like seeing your #1 crush after not seeing her for five years of f o r e s h a d o w i n g. That’s approximately how I felt when I finally got my first Radiohead CD. And it wasn’t Hail to the Thief or OK Computer. It was a CD-R in a plastic case coming from the computer shop. I already forgot how much I paid the guy.

What I remember is that I gave a list of Radiohead songs that he could download (i.e., Limewire, Napster) and burn in one CD. Some of the songs in my list weren’t available, he said. But the best ones were there (“Fake Platic Trees”, “Karma Police”), and titles were printed on a white piece of paper that served as the album cover. I probably still have that CD hidden somewhere. And this was the first time I heard “True Love Waits”, this rough live version which I much prefer over the studio album version.

Sa likod ng mga tala

I went to Pulp Summer Slam and saw Kamikazee live for the first time, heard “Narda” for the first time. And, got interested with Angel Locsin and her TV show (maybe not for the first time) because, well, people at home seldom watch GMA7. Because Mike Enriquez’ “accent” is kind of annoying. And he’s kind of really, y’know, as compared with Noli de Castro or Ted Failon or Julius Babao. And who would’ve thought Julius Babao and Tintin Versola, man? Who would have thought? That even if your name was Julius Lalim and your friends bully you all the time and call you Johnny Deep, what’s the chance that you and someone like Tintin Versola would, you know?

Okay, where was I? Right, Pulp Summer Slam. The next day, I had to go back to the province because that’s where I live and work. And while waiting in the bus station somewhere along Taft, I thought I saw my crush. Not Angel Locsin, an old friend/crush. I thought I saw her cross the street, making patintero with the buses and jeeps. I texted her. I don’t remember what. Maybe something like, “ei, musta, db mlapit kau s my [redacted]?” And you know what, it wasn’t her. Lols. No, it was ACTUALLY her. And she texted back like, Why didn’t you call me? You should have called me. I said wasn’t sure it was her. I only saw her long black hair, like in those shampoo commercials, in slow motion. And, alam mo naman tayo, walang magawa, nerbyoso.

Mama’s in the kitchen with onions

I was on night shift. I was on a bus going to work, listening to NU107. This is probably one of those moments that later turned me to a Stephen Malkmus/Pavement fan. And this is what I miss about listening to the radio, that you would never ever get from Spotify. The radio shows, DJs introducing songs, and DJs talking about music and stuff. I was listening to this show on NU107, I forgot what it’s called. I think the topic was about indie-rock.

And they talked about this guitarist who once auditioned for Morrissey’s band, his solo band, post-The Smiths. I think they played that guitarist’s song during the show but can’t remember his name or his song. And the story that, even though he was good (the guitarist) Morrissey didn’t like him and for one reason: he sang during the audition. As if Morrissey was like, in this band, you play guitar, I do the singing. That’s how I remember it anyway. Then, they introduced this really great song from Stephen Malkmus. It’s called “Mama”, from his then current album Face the Truth.

And I think this is part where I wrap things up, say some truths about the human condition or… I don’t know, make a circle or something? You know, like the ending going back to the start. Something like, this song “Mama”, it goes “Mama’s in the kitchen with onions/Daddy’s in the back with ol’ Hank/Thinking ’bout the lasers and bunions/Talking disability ranks/No, we didn’t have too much money/Just enough to make the dead ends meet.

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