I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last three years for depression, and the experience has been intense, frustrating, and upsetting, but also illuminating. Often during the sessions, a thought will percolate up from my subconscious, and sometimes, by talking it through, ideas will start to form that will eventually wend their way into my writing. It’s as though therapy acts as a catalyst, the fuel that ignites my imaginative mind, and that feeds into that space where a song is born. If nothing else, in the last few years I believe I have become skilled at one particular thing: allowing it, whatever it is, to happen. And when it happens, I do my best to get out of my own way.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
At some point, when I am in the throes of working on an album, and as the songs accrue, I begin to notice that they seem to be talking to one another. The more songs I write, the more voices are added, and the dialogue takes the shape of a narrative. And then that narrative metastasizes, snaking its way through every single track. Sometimes a dissonant voice erupts out of nowhere; it might seem to be unrelated but, often later, when I sense I am nearing the end of a particular cycle of tunes, I’ll look back at the songs I thought were “troubled” or not “following the thread,” and those are the ones that usually wind up being the most meaningful to me.
Recently, I came across the term “limerence,” which is “the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.” Certain people feel powerfully drawn to a “limerent object,” because there is something primal and deep-seated in their subconscious that makes them crave it. The object is like love heroin, and the more the limerent feels that dopamine “hit” of pleasure, the more the feelings are intensified, and a dangerous cycle begins. The problem is, what’s going on is only going on in the limerent’s head. And the limerent usually always knows this. So in the end, it’s just fucking hell.
This is not someone having a junior high school crush or a mere unrequited infatuation (not to say those don’t have a potent value). This, for all intents and purposes, is love with a capital L. At least for the limerent. The more I thought about it, isn’t this really what love is? It’s in all of our music, our books, our movies, our culture. It’s that thing that we all go through life desperately looking for: the soulmate, the one true one. Maybe that’s why most love relationships wind up doomed on the rocks of resentment and dissatisfaction. What human person could ever live up to such objectified, idealized standards? And yet, this seems to be sacrosanct to us. We live in hope. It’s what sates the limerent’s jones, at least for a time.
So with these thoughts rolling around my brain, I began the process of writing this album. As I do and in my way, I didn’t have it mapped out. I didn’t think, at least not at first, “This is what I want it to be.” Or, “This is where it should begin; and then proceed; and then this is where it should all wrap up.” I just did the work. As it happened, by the time I’d gotten as far along as the fifth or sixth song, a “glimmer” started forming as to a direction I might be headed in. And then a song and some lyrics emerged that seemed to be saying what I’m on about:
I see that look in your eyes
And it consumes me like a fire
I am helpless and I am hopeless
Can’t let go of my desire
I am filled with a kind of sickness
This addiction I have for you
You occupy my every single thought
And my every thought is born of blue
Just about all of my albums seem to follow this circuitous route. In a way, my music is my “limerent object,” that thing that I love so deeply. But it’s elusive and ephemeral. You can’t throw your arms around it. And it does not love you back. It just tells a story of a time, which is now, and a place, which is here.
We’re ripping out the garden
And putting up a shed
We buried grandpa down there
Beneath a thunderhead
The Santa Ana seethes
The Santa Ana seethes