Dear old friend,
Last year, you posted about rekindling your relationship to music, tired of the playlist algorithms, and disenchanted. I’m curious, how did your experiment go?
Your post came to mind as I sit here on a bus on a Sunday evening, stuck in traffic on my way back to Panama city after a couple of days away for Easter. What should have been a 4 hour journey will probably turn out to be an 11 hour one; a combination of my lack of foresight and the infamous Panamanian traffic. The bus is moving at snail pace. Earlier it was a sweltering 34 degrees, and the AC absolutely battled (now luckily it has cooled down). Cumbia has been playing for a solid 6 hours, people are watching videos on their phones without using headphones, kids are whiney. It’s hectic, to say the least.
Luckily I have a charged phone and some headphones, and have spent the past few hours trawling through spotify, rediscovering some forgotten gems. My meanders took me to The Killers, and I decided to listen to Hot Fuss, the full album. Do you know how long it’s been since I sat and listened to an album? I have no clue. I have a feeling this is one of the things you said you missed. Sitting and listening to an album seems like it’s from another era.
From the first notes of ‘Jenny was a Friend of Mine’, I’m back in early 2005.
It’s February, a couple of weeks after my birthday, pitch black outside, and biting cold. I get home from school and there’s a package waiting for me, adorned with your distinct handwriting and stickers. I close my bedroom door, turn on my pink and purple ambiance lamps around my desk and sit on the little rattan chair under my bunk bed.
Inside the package is a birthday card, a letter, and two presents. The first is a multi-coloured wooden bead necklace from H&M kids. I’ve been wearing a lot of all-black these days, and a lot of black eyeliner. You assure me that wearing jewellery from the kids section is cool, in an ironic sort of way. I put it round my neck as a choker, and reapply some more eyeliner, just to make sure the irony is emphasised.
The second present is a copy of a new album, in one of those thin cases that came with the packs of 20 blank CDs. You’ve made a cover for it, including a couple of pictures of Orlando Bloom (of course), a mini vintage Star Wars poster, and a mini picture of the album cover, all lovingly collaged together, most likely on Paint.
‘It’s a new band called The Killers, I think you’ll like them. Happy 14th birthday!’
There on that cold winter night in early 2005, I listened to Hot Fuss for the first time, back-to-back. I spent most of the time thinking about my first real crush, and what I was going to say to him the next day at theatre rehearsals. Maybe something about this new band. Maybe I’d wear the new necklace. There was an excitement in my stomach that you can only ever really get from hearing music that you instantly love for the first time, from your first crush, from being 14, from that magic of early teenage-hood when you just can’t wait for something magic to ‘finally happen’ to your life.
14 years later, I’m on a bus traveling through Panama, trying to escape the cacophony around me. That brown paper package you sent me all those years ago is still providing instant transportation.