On Being Sick, Astral Weeks, and Sometimes Getting Through

I recently found an old I-Pod that I thought was broken, but it’s been working fine the last two-three days and I can tell how obsessed I was with Van when I put the songs on it, because it has 7 of his albums on it. The other day I was listening to it, near my apartment pool, laying in the sun and there was a bunch of great shit on it: Jr. Walker and the all-stars, Pete Townshend, Nick Lowe, Blood on the Tracks which really floored me and then I listened to Astral Weeks, because those two albums I sort of got into at the same time-when I was maybe 23 but especially Astral Weeks because he was like 23/24 when he made the album and when I look back at the time I see the time as being O Hail to the Thief/ a lot of Neil Young (On the Beach just released on CD…one of the best two guitar solo songs ever, the second one he makes his guitar sound like I imagine lighthouse sounds like, stumbling….Thin lIzzy’s Still in Love with You too)/ Station to Station (not the side effects of the cocaine/ I’m thinking that it must be love)/ Sticky Fingers/ Electric warrior/ Slider and Tanx (I’m a Tanx apologist…..I’ll get into that some other day) Sticky fingers/ & Astral Weeks. It’s sort of weird that my life is sort of divided into musical interludes; so I look back on that, musically, very fondly, but honestly I was miserable. I was fucked in the head; I couldn’t sleep; I quit doing drugs because I was nervous: I felt like my skull was going to break through my skin at any second.  I’d drive or walk around San Francisco, because I couldn’t stop thinking…could never relax and really had no idea what was going on with me; I just felt this guilt or that this was what lot I’d pulled in life and I didn’t have anybody I could explain it to-I didn’t know anybody that was going crazy and that’s what I figured was happening; I’d try to keep my drives near a hospital and sometimes I’d park in the parking lot and think should I go in? But I’d be listening to this music. So it’s great and beautiful and etc., but I thought I was gonna die; thought rooms were shrinking in on me; i was being conspired against; black spots always at the edge of my periphery and this was, I figured, some sort of punishment from I don’t know who . And I never drank heavily before, I was a person who just wanted to always be fucked up, but I always preferred weed or any other drugs and I would drink, but I never had a problem with it (I sort of looked down on drinkers…it seemed so unadventurous)…and all of the sudden I started drinking and it made me less nervous and it helped what i later found out was bad anxiety and depression back and forth, but I drank from the time I got up until i went to sleep…drank at work, drank at school, drove with a bottle and a buzz…I had a gallon bottle of vodka and I kept it under my bed and if it was close to two AM I’d make sure I had a good drunk and at least a fifth of vodka and twenty beers and even my girlfriend was fine with it; seemed a necessary evil- I couldn’t even hang out with a friend or go get something to eat without at least drinking half a pint of vodka and I wouldn’t even get that drunk, I thought I’d only get normal. I was hurt and I can remember listening to Madame George and how he feels guilty for ditching Madame George to go home and how the love to love the glove (like when you keep saying a word over and over and you start to think “that’s not a word, or it doesn’t mean that”…and glove become love and then it is, too) and thinking it was me and why were we ever that way or to be born again (astral weeks, the song) and I thought he gets it, Van Morrison gets it, across all this time and space, one person does. I want another chance at this existence. I’ll see the love first time around, not just in retrospect, because maybe that’s my problem…and then I became sure I was losing my mind, so I talked to a doctor at the school I went to and they gave me medicine and it helped, but I’d already become an alcoholic so i didn’t quit drinking it just made me less nervous- I started using drugs again, but this time harder and etc. etc. That’s another story. So the other day, I’m listening to Madame George and I’m thinking how much Astral Weeks meant to me and how much it still means to me and how I should never let myself forget and it hurt; that whole time period came back to me and the pain and how hurt and arrogant I was and how a few things are a balm and this was one of them and thanks, thank you for this and then I had to put on my sunglasses  and I listened to madame george over and over. I don’t expect it makes much sense, but then again skin never did…I don’t understand what people do without music….it’s the waves of time illustrated, music is our painted time. This music is our painted time. And time is a falling away but music tries (and even more beautifully so in its inability to do fully, like Zeno’s arrow)…I don’t know if this is my favorite record but it means as much to me as anything…I’ve listened to My Aim is True more than any other CD, I have Cocaine records that I cherish still, Sticky fingers and Raw Power and most of Ozzie-era Sabbath…but at a certain point your cocaine use gets outs of hand when you grab a Wham Cd (yes, I have a Wham Cd and in the ’80s as a 9 or 10 year old, I thought “man could anybody be more masculine and cool than George Michael….” In my defense, he had a killer leather jacket and a perfect three day stubble) to snort it off of – you’ve crossed over into addiction, I digress…I think it’s important when you are happy (or going through anxious depression again in different ways and I do) to face the darkness and the occasionally accompaniment that light is. I also really like Tusk better than Rumours….I like the messy, fucked up, stuttering ones….maybe somebody needs this, I don’t know…

I wrote this a few years ago…it still holds, I think…also, in the above: the best cocaine albums are usually black…you’re a dumb-fuck if you snort coke off the white album…

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