Don’t kill the god of sadness

I’ve just finished Kristin Hersh’s Paradoxical Undressing. In honour of which, here’s some early Throwing Muses:

Seems decent videos from back then are incredibly rare. Shame I couldn’t find a good video of The Letter – I have a bootleg(?) with it on from that Town & Country club gig shown in a couple of those videos, so I’m sure it exists, just no-one’s ever uploaded it to youtube 😦

Throwing Muses are one of those vital bands for me (at least, up till hunkpapa. From The Real Ramona on I start to lose interest), the kind that re-shapes your world, spins you around and says, “THIS. This is what matters. This is what you should be doing.” I reckon you only ever get a couple of those in your lifetime, and it’s very much dependent on where you are when you hear them as to whether they have that kind of world-altering impact.

I got In a Doghouse in my last year of high school, and it’s become the album/book/film that most sums up my adolescence. Something about the fractured stories in Kristin’s lyrics has tangled with the various stories I heard or (very very occasionally – my teenage years were very boring) participated in growing up on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I realise this probably happens to other people listening to other music, but I still think there’s something different about Kristin’s lyrics, something that lends itself particularly to this kind of entanglement. Something about the way you get these vivid fragments of stories that attach themselves to your own memories.

I have a pipe dream of one day writing a TV series based on Hate My Way. Not a literal transcription, and certainly not a biography of Kristin or the band, but something full of vivid fragments and light, a coming of age tale set in a West Coast town (maybe Oban? or Lochgilphead?). And it would be mixed up with stories from my own adolescence, and the hints of stories buried in the song. “Full of colours and sweat, and memories and potential”.

Reading the book, I realised that to me, Throwing Muses occupy a similar position to Joy Division. Both offer a hallucinatory take on the world, translating hidden currents into vivid images. But where Joy Division see darkness and death, a dangerous magic, Throwing Muses (despite Kristin’s assertions to the contrary) always seemed to be about life, about its mess and confusion and joy and potential. I do wonder who I would be if I had discovered Joy Division before I discovered Throwing Muses. I think my world would be a far poorer place.

One response to “Don’t kill the god of sadness

  • niallmoody

    Ech. I need to learn to write better. Too many clauses and digressions. Trying to squeeze too much into too small a space.

    Nonexistent readers of this blog: I will try to do better.

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