Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Spin The Black Circle

It seems we forgot last week's installment, and I was very close to forgetting this week's as well.  I'll make up for it with a double dose.  Look for Not For You tomorrow.

Keep Jammin',
by stip


Spin the Black Circle is a love song, plain and simple—a joyous celebration of how much music means to the singer, the places that it takes him, the path it offers to some form of transcendence and meaning. It’s a celebration of vinyl because A: vinyl allegedly sounds better (I’m not calling that into question—not owning a record player I can’t comment on that one way or the other), and B: because vinyl is in some ways a relic, a hold over to a time when (the singer believes) music was purer—about the experience of the music rather than the image and marketing behind it

So STBC is a love song, about a love in some ways more pure (I won’t say powerful but I’m not too happy with this word choice either) in some ways than even sex and romance, as music just allows you to take what you need from it without demanding anything in return. It is difficult to love someone from a position of weakness since that sort of love will require sacrifices of the self that you may not be in a position to give. The music is there for you when you need it most—when you are at your weakest and just need something that is unconditionally yours.

One of the things that makes STBC an interesting song is the way they chose to approach it. It is one of the most aggressive and heaviest (although in a celebratory way) songs the band has ever written, with Eddie shredding his vocals—like he loves so much it hurts. The lyrics also parallel the thoughts of a drug addict—the junkie who cannot live without his next hit, the anticipation of lovingly bringing the needle down—the way, as Eddie says, the process is ritualized (music is a ceremony as much as it is a collection of sounds). The anticipation of what is to come is almost as important as the event itself. Given the (fairly accurate) grunge stereotype, a song with music this aggressive and vocals so frantic should be nihilistic—a song about pain and the inability to escape it. Quite possibly it would be a song about addiction (hence the drug language)—and STBC is a song about addiction—but it is a healthy addiction to once, an addiction to the healing powers of music and the path to transcendence that it offers. It is a wonderful inversion in that way, a song about life sung in the key of destruction.

It’s an essential lead in to Not For You as well—the anger and hostility in that song doesn’t really make sense without first coming here and sharing in the exultation.