Dear Rocka readers,
In December, I went to an Okey Dokey show in Denver with one of my closest friends. The show was fun– nothing out of this world. But right at the end, we sat outside of the Hi-Dive and ate burritos from a man who was selling them from a cooler wrapped around his neck. Unsurprisingly, they were the best burritos we had ever had.
The marquee above us read “if I could see all my friends tonight.” I was so seized by the words and had no idea what song was their home. I was just so drawn to it. Fast forward to a few weeks later, and “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem felt like the glue of my universe.
At first glance, the displayed lyric packs a punch because of the pandemic. For many months, we were not “seeing our friends” in a very literal way. Nothing was happening and everything was falling apart. The song runs much deeper than that. It explores growing up and growing out of the realities that at one point felt so finite. Although I’m far from a middle life crisis, the song goes beyond the simplistic idea that nostalgia is reserved for older people obsessed with their golden years.
My favorite few verses are:
It comes apart
The way it does in bad films
Except in parts
When the moral kicks in
Though when we’re running out of the drugs
And the conversation’s winding away
I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision
For another five years of life
You drop the first ten years just as fast as you can
And the next ten people who are trying to be polite
When you’re blowing eighty-five days in the middle of France
Yeah, I know it gets tired only where are your friends tonight?
In the dead of another dark Michigan winter, I sat in a parking lot at two in the morning listening to this song on repeat. I was obsessed with the idea that it held some answer I was looking for, and although it didn’t fix all my problems, the song seemed to take up space in the passenger seat of my car. I mistook dissatisfaction for my present as nostalgia for my past. A past that for all intents and purposes, did not serve me.
I wasn’t homesick for the reasons I think most people get homesick. I was homesick for a version of myself I wasn’t quite sure existed in the first place. One verse above harps on running out of drugs and small talk and every other band-aid we slap on the pain of time passing. When you sober up, get older, or move through another phase of life, it is easy to let the power of missing something outweigh enjoying the memory of it. I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. I think time grants us space, and it’s up to us what we do with that. Do we forget? Move on? Actively make the choice to heal? Or obsess over what once was as a replacement for what is?
Everything comes apart the way it does in bad films. That grants me a massive sense of peace. When one thing comes apart, usually something else comes together (even if you don’t see it for quite some time). And don’t we all wish we were protagonists in some film?
I’m in a better place than I was a few months ago, so this song is now associated with dormitory parking lots, tears freezing on my face, and a fracture in my sense of identity. But I still listen once in a while when I want to be taken away from the present without slipping backwards. I listen to remind myself that my life is happening now, not in the years I’ve sped to get through or am crawling to reach.
The past few years have highlighted the incomprehensible fragility of the world we live in and our flimsy understandings of ourselves and others. “All My Friends” and the amount of people who love this song are once again proof that we are the farthest thing from alone in this strange world.
How lovely it is to live such an unoriginal life.
“Yeah, I know it gets tired only where are your friends tonight?” is a haunting line that becomes more of an existential question as you get older, but you get it. What you wrote afterwards gave me goosebumps. Seriously. You get it. You’re going to be all right.