Jesse & Death Cab.


Today began as any other Tuesday: wake up after three separately set alarms- spaced an hour apart, think about the tasks that are to come throughout the next eight hours of work-who will I need to speak with? What articles need to be written?- and drowsily make my way to the office on the back of the moto, sunglasses deflecting the sun’s bright, unrelenting glare- thin cigarette hanging despondently between my fingers. I arrived at my place of work; I turned on, clicked around, and logged in to all of my accounts and pages- awaiting the e-mails I would respond to, the edits I would need to make; but first snuck onto my Facebook only to be reminded unsubtly that “I HAVE AN EVENT TODAY”.

B&A_bellingham 2010
Brooke & Anna, Bellingham 2010

Usually it’s for a DJ set I say I’ll go to but never really intend on or attending a party at some cocktail bar which would require socialization running on fumes, but today’s event was for my good friend and business partner Jesse Morrow’s Live Stream of him playing his music, from all three albums, and that I had just made it in time to listen to the last half hour or so. There he sat, American flag as his hipster backdrop in a perfectly Morrow-esque jumper and guitar, maybe one that has traveled with him far and wide- from Paris to Geneva to Phnom Penh- and singing the lyrics I had heard over and over, at the shows he played in Seattle and Bellingham where Brooke, Luke, and I found ourselves struggling through the kelp-y, tangled beginnings of adulthood, watching B-grade movies and eating at fancy restaurants none of us could really afford but didn’t care.  I sat at my desk here in Phnom Penh, beaming at the lyrics of “Like a Thief” and the memories of New Years 2011 at a beach house at Seabrook as I danced to “This Air”, surrounded by loved ones. Eventually the internet signal, or maybe simply the set, cut out to black and I was returned to the sound of far too many aquariums, the buzz of traffic outside- all through muffled, worn headphones.

After basking in the moment of a slight glimpse of Washington, I continued to scroll through my news feed and a title caught my eye, from NPR: ‘First Listen: Death Cab For Cutie, ‘Transatlanticism (10th Anniversary Edition)’. It struck me that this album, which ushered me into adolescence (again, with Brooke right there next to me) was celebrating its 10th anniversary. In no way does it make me feel old- but then again, it makes me feel like I’ve lived a lot. A lot longer than I’ve been alive.

The accompanying article by Stephen Thompson embodied the album perfectly, some parts reading especially sincere personally, “The way singer Ben Gibbard channeled youthful confusion, vulnerability and sweetness mirrored universal fumbling feelings of growing up and facing down the complexities of love, heartbreak, long-distance yearning and budding nostalgia. From the first line of its first song (“So this is the new year / and I don’t feel any different”), Transatlanticism swims in uncertainty, as if its narrator isn’t even quite sure how feelings work yet.” and “Life hands us many milestones as we wend our way from cradle to grave. From first teeth to first kisses to first loves and losses, we mark off our crucial firsts as transformative events; we’re no longer babies, or children, or teenagers, or dependent on others to get by. One of those milestones, for those of us who so often set our lives to music, is the first time we get to mutter, “That came out 10 years ago? God, I am so old.”

I’ve now listened to the demo tracklist twice- and will willingly pay the cost to legitimately download the tracks as during my years in the 8th grade used Limewire and Kazaa to illegally load my first mp3 player with their original songs. I will listen to it with new ears, as time has transformed each song into something different, with added nuances and clicks- but also gently and gratefully hold onto the knowledge that the old version of the song- attached to delicate, glorious, and heartbreaking memories- will be there too, right when I need it most.

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