Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"I'm sorry I missed you/I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain."

The Song: "Secret Meeting," The National. Words & music by The National (Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Scott Devendorf, Bryan Devendorf). Track 1 of Alligator, 2005.
How/when acquired: Downloaded MP3, 2007
Listen/watch here.

I believe that my brother-in-law Scott first brought The National to my attention, although it might have been my friend Tom, or my friend John. They are the quintessential sensitive-guy band of the turn of the 21st century, and speak directly to my specific subculture of anxious, over-educated white people.

"Secret Meeting" is a song about the voices in one's head that keep us from connecting with people we might want to know, people who might wish us well.
I think this place is full of spies
I think they're onto me
Didn't anybody, didn't anybody tell you
Didn't anybody tell you how to gracefully disappear in a room

That ability to disappear gracefully in a room is valuable for people like me, who gather information as a bulwark against anxiety. Better to be one of the spies surrounding this song's singer than have other people watching you, although the line between paranoia and delusional narcissism is a fine one.

But this song is also about that moment when we realize our brains have tricked us into misperception, and that the world is going on without us while we're locked in our own craziness. I had a moment like that this morning, where suddenly things seemed to clear. It might just be that the weather is beautiful again; it might be that I finally seem to have found an over-the-counter allergy medicine that's working. It might be the sense of making some progress on some long-term tasks, or the fact that it's only a week until I'll be seeing many of my closest friends at Bouchercon in San Francisco.

But for the moment, at least, the secret meeting in my brain has gone the dull and wicked ordinary way, and is adjourned to the call of the chair.

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