A few weeks ago I had a genuinely scary little episode in which I experienced what felt like an alternate universe for about an hour, following a particularly debaucherous night of carousing. I woke up in a room I did not recognize, in a bed I did not recognize, with a cat staring at me and ska music playing quietly in the background. Much as I tried, I just couldn’t unlock the events from last night– they were apparently stowed away in the deepest, darkest corridors of the seedy slums of my psyche. I was clearly still drunk from the night before, my mouth tasting like a combination of gin, cigarette smoke and vomit. Not so fresh. I still had all my clothes on, and thankfully there was nobody lying next to me. I got up and stumbled around for a couple of minutes, trying to escape that damn cat’s gaze. I found my phone and wallet on the corner. I checked the wallet’s contents– still some money inside. I couldn’t remember how much money I had the night before, but the fact that there was still some in there was a good sign, and pointed away from any paranoid fantasy of having been drugged, raped and having my kidney stolen for sale in the black market.
I walked out of the room and out to a living room I also couldn’t recognize. Looked at the clock on the wall– it was a few minutes past 10 am. There was nobody around. I found the front door and toppled out to a too-sunny street, the overwhelming daylight pounding into my corneas like Satan sausages of death. I hailed a cab. I gave the driver my address and fell asleep against the window. I slipped into a dream about cleaning products that was just starting to get interesting when I was awakened by the driver tapping on my shoulder, letting me know we’d arrived. I walked into my apartment, a disheveled mess of a human being, and drank 8 glasses of water before collapsing into my bed. I slept for a couple of hours before I had to get up to pee. And then, during that bladder evac, it all came back to me. I suddenly recognized the house, the street, the room and the bed. I even recognized the cat. I called my friend up and said “Hey, thanks for letting me crash at your place. I may have left your front door wide open. You should look into that. Bye.”
And for the rest of the day, I nursed a well-deserved, crippling hangover, accompanied by intermittent flashbacks of the previous night’s debauchery. The Universe was clearly pointing a big fat judgemental finger at my face and reminding me that I brought this on myself.
Here are some tunes that helped me alleviate a brutal case of post-bender delirium tremens.
Grandaddy- “Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)”
Grandaddy were the unsung heroes of the late-nineties/early-aughts indie rock scene; a tragically overlooked band that made a number of gorgeous, richly melodic albums exploring themes of technology, communication and obsolete household appliances. This beautiful little piece is actually part of a series of songs about Jed the Humanoid, an alcoholic robot who wrote free-association poetry to deal with his crushing feelings of inadequacy. And really, after a long night of heavy drinking and bad decisions, who doesn’t feel like a discarded piece of junk? Sadly for Jed, he dies of alcohol poisoning while his creators are off building better, more advanced models. Welp.
Paul Gonsalves- “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
An exquisite arrangement of one of the most instantly recognizable songs ever. Paul Gonsalves is most remembered for his work with the great Duke Ellington, but his work as a bandleader is absolutely worth digging into. He turns this wistful showtune into a forlorn, contemplative jazz number. The rich, sultry sounds of Gonsalves’ tenor sax are the musical equivalent of an enormous, greasy cheeseburger after a night of drinking.
Dinosaur Jr.- “See You”
A laid-back, easy-breezy jam from these master jammers, with a melody that skips and hangs in just the right places. J Mascis’s voice, all cracky and quivery and confidential, works to great effect on this type of song, feeling every bit as weary and tired as one would as one’s head caves in from irresponsible alcohol consumption. My favorite track off of “Farm”, which, much to my own dismay, remains the only Dinosaur Jr. album I’ve ever owned.
Lisa Hannigan- “I Remember”
Ah, Lisa. I’ve been wanting to write about this lady for a while. I have a number of false starts and aborted drafts which veer dangerously close to psycho-stalker territory. I just can’t seem to write about this woman without feeling skin-crawlingly creepy, as I have an enormous crush on her. Not in a superficial omg-she’s-so-hot kind of way (though she is very beautiful), but her voice, her songs, her overall demeanor get me giddy and swooning like a neglected housewife reading romance novels. Her two solo records are gorgeous from top to bottom, and I will write about them soon (if I can get through it without embarrassing myself), but here’s her part of a song by Damien Rice, off of his album “O”. I cut it out right before Rice’s over-the-top caterwauling kicks in, and left only Lisa’s lovely intro. This is the one voice I most want to hear when I’m nursing a hangover this devastating.
Fred Neil- “The Dolphins”
The harsh, judging sound of that tremolo , melancholy lyrics, keyboard arpeggios lifting up a pretty effin’ downtrodden chord progression. Fred Neil’s powerful, regretful baritone. The saddest bouzouki solo ever played. Perfect music to reflect on all the night’s small defeats and the morning’s big regrets.