The One Song.

It was probably around 2006 or 2007 when I first heard of them. I was on MySpace, reading the blogs posted to the AFI page. I saw that Davey was mentioning other artists and bands, and I wanted to check them out, so I would write the names down when I came upon them.

Dr. Acula
Bright Eyes
From Autumn to Ashes

I found that I liked quite a few of them. Dr. Acula was funny, with their songs named after RL Stein books, Portishead resonated with me on a new level, but it was Bright eyes that stood out to me. Conor Oberst, with his scratchy voice, and his intelligent lyrics struck me to the bone. Lyrics like Your eyes must do some raining, if you’re ever gonna grow, and Well the clock’s heart it hangs inside its open chest with hands stretched towards the calendar hanging itself hit me in a secret place and stuck with me, building up over the years to include I wouldn’t waste another thought on what is fair and what is not. The Quinceañera dress she bought was unstitched with bullets. All the guests in the garden screamed; women and tires squealing. Such opulence, such misery unwinding, unwindingand others when their newest album came out. I went to two of their shows, in as many days when they came through in 2011 with The People’s Key, first going to Boston, then turning around and driving myself to Maine for the first time, to see them in Portland. I paid dearly for those tickets, but they are my favorite, and I had heard it might have been their final tour (still have my fingers crossed) I wasn’t about to miss it.

From the moment I first listened to Bright Eyes, I was caught up in a whirlwind. Conor’s voice can never be called smooth, but I find it beautiful in its own, unique way. His words, however, are what binds me. I own every song the band has put forth… all but one.

The first time I heard Amy In the White Coat my breath caught in my chest. My heart threatened to break free of the ribs that cage it so securely. I panicked. I tried so hard, after that, to force myself to listen to it, because I couldn’t bear the thought of not loving one of their songs, but I just can’t bring myself to listen to the words. It isn’t that it is poorly written; quite the opposite, in fact. I have lived something very close to these words. Something I never wish to relive. It is so well written, that the two times I have forced myself to listen to it, I ended up in hysterics, rocking back and forth, hugging my knees. You see, the words of this stranger have brought back to me the memory I wish to give up most. I have had to accept that there will always be that one song of theirs that I cannot listen to.

In the end, his words always get me.

You take your clothes off
Right after school
The tea is on
The flame is blue
And you hope it won’t take
All afternoon
The TV’s waiting
To talk to you
It’s your naked body
On white velour
But there’s no feeling
Just weight on you
But you get nauseous now
As he speaks to you
Such proper language
For acts so cruel
He says “we all follow the rules
We can’t very well go and break them now can we?
For you, for you, for you..

Your older sisters,
I had them too,
But you’re my favorite
You know it’s true.
You look like your mother
In that thin disguise
Your parting mouth,
Your shining eyes.
And the way that you hate me
And the length of your hair
It’s the reason I make you
It’s the bond that we share
Cos you were all trying to endure it
You could easily go and make your own life somewhere
Couldn’t you? Couldn’t you? Couldn’t you, couldn’t you, couldn’t you, couldn’tyou, couldn’t you?”

With the sun beams bright
You keep your eyes shut
Your alarm clock lies
Get to school on time
But you’re a bag of warm fluid
You’re the corpse in the class
You walk so near to your locker
You lay so low in the grass
Did you get that coat from the principal?
Did you get that bruise on the bus?
You should wash your hair more
You should look more like us.
But I saw you walking once
Under powder blue skies
You looked cold still
Your collar was high
And I tried to talk to you
But you walked right by
I don’t know which I said then,
“Hello” or “Goodbye”
And yet we’re all trying to be pure
But it isn’t a very easy thing, now is it?
To do, To do, To do, To do, To do, To do
Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it, Isn’t it?


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