a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

goodbye, 2015

One of my favorite Sonic Youth songs is Skip Tracer, from their 1995 album Washing Machine

Youtube: Skip Tracer (4:13)

It's a weird one. It starts out very dissonant even by Sonic Youth standards. It's mostly an atonal spoken word piece, sort of a half-shouted beat poem

A skip tracer is someone trying to find a person who skipped town. I don't know if the narrator is the person looking or the one who got away, but the discordant music and frenzied verse paints a dismal picture of someone lost and alone in a city that doesn't care about them

It builds up this frantic crescendo until the tension is almost unbearable

But at around the halfway point, a melody starts emerging from the noise, there's a short quiet interlude, and Lee Ranaldo sings the only lyrical stanza in the entire song:

Where are you now?
When your broken eyes are closed
Head in a cloudy dream, green and sailboats

Lee Ranaldo didn't typically sing in Sonic Youth. He only took lead vocals on 28 of their 500 songs, and his voice isn't the strongest. It definitely feels like he's not as comfortable giving his voice to the music as Thurston Moore or Kim Gordon. But in that moment, his singing is achingly beautiful. His words feel like a chance encounter in an anonymous crowd, the smile of recognition on the face of a friend you haven't seen in years

One more spoken stanza:

Borrowed and never returned
Emotions, books, outlooks on life

Then he brings it home with the pinnacle, shouting joyously as the guitars swell:

Hello, 2015!

I dunno, maybe I only get so much out of it because of what I'm projecting, but to me that moment is incredible. Breaking through the noise, escaping a dissonant and alienating life, saying hello to two decades in the future, imagining a better place. It brings me joyful frisson

On New Year's Eve 2014, I was ready. At midnight, I posted "Hello 2015!" On twitter with a link to the song, because I'm cool and that's what cool people do on New Year's Eve. I don't think anyone took much notice. If anyone clicked, they probably closed it after a few seconds, and I guess I can't blame them—although there were Sonic Youth fans in the comments saying hello to 2015, which warmed my heart

I kept the tradition up for the next 4 years on Mastodon, announcing "Hello 2016!", "Hello 2017!", etc. Once 2020 hit, I guess the moment was over. 2020 sounds too different, but also by then it was a lot harder to feel optimistic

It's weird now, 7 years later, being sentimental about it from the other direction. A song released in 1995 that I didn't hear until the mid-2000s. A man saying hello to a future that seemed so far away to him, but by the time I heard his greeting, was almost upon us

The mid-2010s were pretty good for me on a personal level. I finally got help for my depression, experienced a lot of growth, and had borrowed a new outlook on life. But by the end of 2019, I realized the overdue notices were piling up and I still hadn't skipped town. I'm starting to doubt I ever will

Where am I now, when my broken eyes are closed? Cloudy dreams lost between the trains and cars, scattered among the broken glass and hubcaps, obscured by images of a gun. All I can see is ghosts of lost futures

But then The Diamond Sea starts and I feel a little better 🦝

#essay #personal