Bruce Springsteen has never sounded so good, I thought to myself last night jokingly, listening to the new Arcade Fire album, Neon Bible. For the first time in I don't know how long, but a seriously long time, I listened to an album. I did not have it on headphones while I was walking around town, nor did I have it playing on my computer as I checked MySpace over and over for reasons that never seem clear. Instead, I played it in my living room, turned off the lights and lied on the couch and just took it in, eyes closed. I had taken a decent amount of Sudafed and so was feeling a bit fucked up, nervous and jittery, slightly paranoid, definitely emotional.
I could hear him already on the second track, Springsteen's ghost, on "Keep the Car Running." And can you hear the ghost of someone still living? Would that not be the spirit of the person? Or might it be the ghost; might Springsteen in essence be dead with his, though noble, fairly boring Seeger Sessions? I did not notice this Springsteen influence at all on Funeral, but it seems so blatantly obvious on Neon Bible. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is to David Byrne as The Arcade Fire is to Bruce Springsteen?
These thoughts and other analogies came and went, notes and chords did, and I thought about this life I am living and the topic of life in general and what, if anything, it means, those questions seeming even more pertinent, even more perplexing, after this emotional week. I blew my nose not unoften, because though this generic Sudafed does manage to make me a skittish horse (though perhaps beaten dog always flinching at any touch might be a better analogy), it does absolutely nothing to in any way stop or even slow the constant flow of snot from my nose. All this and more, thoughts about love, thinking about the ones I love so dearly, about the future of a week from now when I am jobless, and about the future on that seemingly far off horizon, that horizon that shifts in some moments to let you know that it is not that far off, that it never was.
And then the eighth track came on, "Antichrist Television Blues," and though the title sounds like a Violent Femmes track, it is not by them, and it not by the Arcade Fire; it is Bruce Springsteen of the late 70s playing with this Canadian band of today. And this song started playing on the heels of these thoughts about time and life, and came under the influence of this Sudafed induced haze, and I was totally overwhelmed by this sound, it cutting through every piece of me, and I started to cry, thinking about how much this band could sound like this man, thought about singular identities, the thing we cling to and the thing that makes death and life seem terrifying, that the absence of that person is an absence of that thing, but here it is rising from the throat of this young man. The ghost, the spirit, filled him and it filled my living room last night, and it was so damn beautiful and there is nothing you can do to hold on to that. You can't grab at the air and ask this moment to stay. You can play the track again, thinking you might be able to invoke that same moment, but I did so this morning, played it in the shower as I was shaving my testes and my asshole, and I wanted it to invoke that same moment, but it invoked nothing so much as the memory of the moment.