Thursday, May 24, 2007

"poltergeist," unreleased

you can listen to "poltergeist" here.

it never surprises me that "poltergeist" didn't make it on an album. for all of darneille's songs about passionately unhappy couples, a song where the bad feeling is triangulated by a child--on the sunset tree, the kid becomes the narrator--leaves pretty much no room for melodrama. we need melodrama to stay afloat.

but what draws me, occasionally, terribly, to "poltergeist" is a fear of having children that i probably share with heap-millions of kids my age. my friend kate recently had a baby, and i was astonished to see how sublimely happy she was with it and with its father; how well adjusted she seemed as an actual mother. i'd grown up with divorced parents; my girlfriends had pregnancy scares that really honest-to-god scared me; i used to watch eraserhead like it was medicine for the condition of the world (nothing is more scared of having children than eraserhead).

so i remember hearing "poltergeist" for the first time and being reminded of the fear that i could come to hate the thing that bore what i might love: "i can't stand it when he smiles up at you just because you're his mother / i can't stand the bitter thing that i've become"; the realization that all problems as a couple are immeasurably complicated by the tiny animal that slides between them, blinking, unable to fend for itself.

addendum, 5/24:

i don't usually post addenda quite this soon, but "poltergeist" is the first time in a couple weeks that a song i've picked to write on when i wake up has just dogged me throughout the day. and it's not that it hasn't happened before this blog, but one of the points of this project was to get some ABJECTION into my MG listening; to feel like i could write something on a song to avoid thinking about it for a while.

and what's getting me is this idea of the baby. all of darnielle's "love" songs hinge on the possibility of laughing at them on one listen and crying on another ("standard bitter love song #8," with its batshit, overstated mythical imagery, is a pretty prime example). i can't seem to find anything funny in "poltergeist," and as far as i know, it's the only song other than all hail west texas's "pink and blue" that has a baby in it. babies are clean and faultless things--what could they possibly do in a mountain goats song?

1 comment:

Housewives? said...

You’re right babies are pretty absent in the Mountain Goats discography. I have a live version of a song called Soft Targets, I don’t know if he ever released it or anything but it’s got a passing reference to a baby “it’s you and it’s me and the baby makes three” Here’s a copy: