“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?”
― Christopher Hitchens, Mortality
Ladies & gentlemen, I give you the new Explone video for “Trap Door.” This was Scott’s sophomore turn as a video director, and he assures us it will be his final one as well. To paraphrase Mr. Andrew: “this shit is just a LOT of work.” Well, yes it is--particularly when you once again film the entire thing on an iPhone 4S. (That’s not a plug or a product placement, it’s just a statement of fact.)
“Trap Door” is one of my favorite songs from our last EP Telescope & Satellite. I had the music kicking around for a while, but it took a long time to finish. The song is pretty dark and moody, and I kept waiting for it to tell me what it was supposed to be about. Something was tugging me, but it took awhile for it to come into focus. When it finally did, I finished the lyrics and arrangement in about fifteen minutes. The trigger, unfortunately, was a reminder that for all of us, time is short.
Losing people is a bitch. And fear of loss is something that keeps us all awake sometimes, one way or another. Technology, in my estimation, makes this both easier and harder. The ease with which we stay hyper-connected in virtual terms occasionally puts into stark relief how disconnected we are in real terms. This is true when pondering the least significant milestones in anyone’s life, but it surely impresses upon us when someone passes away. “Trap Door” is about losing someone, and more so about realizing the ways in which the losing happened before it happened.
A long time ago, when I was taking my first fledgling steps into the Seattle music scene, there was a small network of bands who I admired, shared shows with, hung around, and generally felt like I fit into some kind of “scene” with. This wasn’t a calculated thing; these were just the people I gravitated to in the early 1990’s, as Seattle was reeling with post-grunge euphoria and everyone from everywhere was moving to our town to start or join a band. Some of the people in this scene were my close friends, and others were merely casual friends or acquaintances, people who I thought of fondly and admired in some way, even if we weren’t that close. Music is a pretty intimate thing to share, and it tends to give the impression that you know someone better than you probably do once you’ve given or received that form of expression. I know I’ve felt like I know someone better after watching one 45-minute set of loud rock music than I probably would have after working at a job together for weeks or months. It’s just a barrier-breaking emotional exchange.
A few years ago, one of the people from this scene passed away unexpectedly. I was friends with this person, but we had not been in touch in some time. Still, the news of their passing took me by surprise and reminded me not just of my own mortality, but also of how many missed opportunities I’d had to make a connection with them recently. Thanks to the extremely connected virtual pond we all swim in, within a day or two I knew the whole story of their untimely death, and I anonymously shared an outpouring of shock and sadness from many other old friends and acquaintances, without ever really talking to anyone. The whole thing left me with a strange, voyeuristic feeling. I wanted to go to a bar and see everyone there, but it wasn’t happening.
“Trap Door” wasn’t written specifically about any one person, but the sense of loss without closure I felt that summer came back to me while I was finishing it. It’s hard to reconcile that stuff, especially if the person lost went unexpectedly, or (worse yet) took themselves out of the equation. You really don’t know how much time you have. This isn’t a reason to go around clinging to things, any more than it justifies hedonistically living only for the present moment. It’s just a reminder of the fact that, sooner or later or somewhere in between, we’ll all be gone. Maybe somewhere else, maybe not. But not here, with each other. Not even with ourselves.
This past week I received word of the loss of another friend from that same time in my life. In this case it was a guitarist who I had always admired and whose playing had inspired me on many occasions. It might feel different if we had stayed in touch, but now the best memories I have of him are from when we were both in our 20’s, feeling young and ambitious and very immortal. We saw each other a few times over the years, but not enough to overwrite the image in my mind of that earlier time. And now he’s gone.
It’s a fucking trap door, life. Under your feet.
‘til next time,