The National

No Time for Love Like Now

Michael Stipe & Big Red Machine – No Time for Love Like Now

When this song came out back in the spring, there were a couple of different performances, varying only slightly by where did Michael seem to be? What was he wearing? Glasses or no glasses? There were interviews where he said, yes, it fits this moment really well but I actually wrote it back in the fall before we had an inkling of the pandemic to come.

The couple of songs he had released prior to this one didn’t really do it for me. I listened/watched the videos, but they weren’t going to be songs I put in my regular rotation. No Time for Love Like Now was different. I’m sure being cooped up in our houses, working from home, doing school from home, afraid to go anywhere, definitely contributed to my feelings about it. Here was Michael, just Michael, singing directly to me. Like a private little concert from his home to my living room. In the middle of a pandemic, in lockdown, in the midst of political turmoil, he was reaching out with a song that felt like a steady hand. Calm reassurance. And yet, at the same time, the power to completely destroy me. We were so fragile. I was trying so hard to hold it together, be strong for the kids and try not to let the worry show (I don’t think I succeeded well at that at all, btw). When his voice has that particular Michaelness about it, which not all the songs do, he still has the ability to just cut right to the very center of my being, exposing all those things I normally keep buried deep beneath the surface.

So now it’s November. We’re heading into winter, which you all know is my hardest season in the best of circumstances. Though we know more about the virus now, it’s still just as random who suffers greatly from it, who dies, and who doesn’t even know they have it. My worry about the pandemic is less panicky but my concerns about our ability to get through this winter, in round two (or whatever number it is) of COVID-19, are weighing on me. I don’t want a repeat of those first couple months from the spring. Everyone is weary after nearly 9 months of just holding on and nerves are frayed, tempers are short. I think this song will be even more important to me for the next few months than it was when it first came out.

Fake Empire

The National – Fake Empire

When my son was learning how to ride a bicycle he had trouble remembering to use the foot brakes so he’d put his feet down trying to stop himself, Fred Flintstone style. I’d be running down the street after him yelling, “Use the brakes! Feet on the pedals! Hit the brakes!!!”

That’s what it feels like, millions of us running down the street, yelling, trying to get someone else to slam on the brakes. Each day watching as some new horror pops up and thinking, god how do we stop this? We make phone calls and write, maybe go to protests, but is it doing anything? When there’s video of white supremacists having a meeting in DC complete with Nazi script and salute, hailing the president-elect, is there really not something more that can be done?

A friend on Facebook said he thought there would be a civil war if O45 isn’t inaugurated and I said yes, civil war if he isn’t, WWIII if he is. There’s the people trying to get the vote audited, especially in states where there are discrepancies, possible vote tampering, Russian hackers, more votes counted than ballots cast, etc. Would the Trump voters ever accept any outcome that isn’t having their conman sworn in? It’s already been proven that they don’t believe facts so no amount of proof would make any difference.

I know if Hillary had won she would have faced as much opposition from Congress as Obama did, maybe even more. That’s one of the reasons why I voted for Bernie in the primary. As things evolved, I don’t think Bernie would have won either and I was fine with voting for Hillary two weeks ago but I didn’t really think she would have been able to do more than hold the line. I know the way things usually play out is that the midterm elections go to the party that lost the presidency and she would likely have been a one term president. But the damage done from just two weeks of having Trump as the president-elect, not even in power yet, is horrifying and irreversible. What’s the best we can hope for now? Impeachment? Mike Pence?!?! Just as scary in a different way. I’d say it couldn’t get worse but if 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that it will get worse.

Sea of Love

The National – Sea of Love

It’s Tuesday. That means it’s new release day in the US. Depending on where you get your music news, you might not have known that there was anything other than the new Daft Punk album out today (in theory, but it was streaming on iTunes last week and was in my local record shop on Friday so…). But the album that arrived on my porch today was Trouble Will Find Me by The National.

Here’s where I admit that this is the first physical copy of one of their albums that I own. I’ve bought all the others as digital downloads then burned them on to discs to have in the car. My car is old. I have a smart phone and a bluetooth FM transmitter and I can actually rig that all up to stream music off the phone through the radio but I travel such distances that the frequency needs to be changed a few times during the drive and it’s kind of a pain. As long as the CD player still works, I’m going to keep using it. Now I finally have the booklet with all the liner notes and the lyrics and art work. I miss that when all I have is a file on the computer.

I’m going to be seeing them live in two weeks so I wanted to make sure I had enough time with the new album before the show. I’m really looking forward to it because it’s a relatively small place. The last time I saw them was at the Beacon Theatre in New York on the last night of their week-long run there, wrapping up their world tour for High Violet. The Beacon is a beautiful theater, not that big, and I had excellent seats so it was a great show. Still, I really love small shows and I’m excited to see how the dynamic is when they’re in a place that’s about half that size, general admission, at the start of the tour and on the road. The beginning of summer instead of the beginning of winter. It’s all different.

They’ve been quite busy promoting the album with appearances on Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, a six hour performance at MoMA PS1, and even a documentary. Then today there were three pop-up shows announced on Twitter and pictures and video trickling out all day long. Given that their previously announced New York show is at the Barclays Center, I think these small shows today were highly sought after and for once I didn’t envy all those people scrambling to get into them. See you in a couple weeks, guys!