Left To My Own Devices…

Well, I must have a door in the back of my head
Where I dump out all the crap so I can just feel solid again

The Dandy Warhols – Solid

Quarantine has been a real bitch. It reaaally has. The endless amounts of time to myself and my own thoughts has been too much for me to handle. The positive has been more time to play video games and listen to music. Lots of music. I started thinking about songs that sorta capture the vibe of quarantine and the aesthetic of it all.

This is more or less a list of songs I’ve been playing a lot lately and ones that somewhat paint the picture of this whole situation and just some other general musings about music.

Belle & Sebastian – Boy With The Arab Strap

Glaswegian indie folk band Belle & Sebastian are in my mind, a precursor to artists like Courtney Barnett. Flow of consciousness writing and often mundane seeming lyrics which are really more about the emotions and experiences that drive them.

Boy With The Arab Strap is the eponymous track off the album of the same name realised in 1996. The “meat and potatoes” of the song was inspired by lead singer Murdoch getting over his chronic fatigue syndrome. He would go on long bus journeys to nowhere in particular. Pick up the sights and sounds, make note of the regulars, give himself sort of a routine and some time in the real world. It’s meant to express that weird, often speechless relationship you have with people without ever realising it. You start to recognise the regulars on your commute into work or uni.

You even begin to make up stories for the people you see, fantasising about their lives as if they’re the lead character of a TV show or movie, when in reality… they’re just someone else going through the motions of life who you probably won’t ever know much about.

It’s a unique sort of feeling that I didn’t think about until quarantine hit. It’s a bit of a Truman Show revelation. I couldn’t tell you just how much I miss having something to be stuck on a bus for hours a week for with time to daydream like that.

Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You

Thematically quite similar to the aforementioned by Belle & Sebastian, Bohemian Like You follows that same sort of idea. Lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor was previously a mechanic in Portland (Oregon) and would fantasise about this one particular woman who came by one day to get her car fixed. From there, Taylor would daydream about her car one day breaking down again and him coming to the rescue and fixing it, and from there somehow get her to fall in love with him.

The lyrics are unique in that they’re a one-way conversation he’s made up in his head with traits he’s attached to this mystery girl and what their date or life together might be like. He’s enthralled with the thought of his own thoughts.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of this on occasion, particularly at TAFE when I see people not in my course just around the campus. I think it’s healthy to daydream about other people, even getting to very elaborate and intricate – where do you think most fiction writers get their characters and ideas from?

Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices

See where I got the title from?

Left To My Own Devices is a track off PSB’s third studio album Introspective. Complete with orchestra to accompany the classic PSB electronica sound, LTMOD is a introspective song about singer Neil Tennant’s life. The album was so named due to the fact all the songs are… introspective!

The lyrics reflect Tennant’s life, and his indecisiveness and reluctance for most of his life to be who he wants to be, or know what he wants to be. The chorus of “I could leave you, say goodbye, or I could love you, if I tried” isn’t directed at a partner or friend, it’s directed at himself. Left to his own devices, he remarks, he probably could love himself and find out who he is, and what he wants to be. In these tough times, I think that’s a philosophy we all need to hold onto.

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