Yearly Archives: 2022

dead man walking

My first year of uni­ver­si­ty was spent on the 15th floor of a res­i­dence on cam­pus, the same sum­mer Pearl Jam’s cov­er of Last Kiss became a radio sta­ple for over 35 con­sec­u­tive weeks. Unsurprisingly, it start­ed play­ing in the ele­va­tor when I was once mak­ing my way to the cafe­te­ria with a floor­mate, who winced upon hear­ing Vedder’s grave­ly voice and did her best to talk over it, explain­ing her dis­like of sad music.

I was tak­en aback. Depressing lyrics and minor chords were an enor­mous com­fort to me1. As the sole child of a dys­func­tion­al home, the only thing I could turn to when my par­ents start­ed rais­ing their voic­es at each oth­er was a set of head­phones and Discman, and I’d been hunt­ing for sad songs like a rav­en­ous stray ever since I was old enough to appre­ci­ate music.

The same became true of upset­ting movies with dif­fi­cult scenes. Moments of vio­lence, tragedy, and grief would leave me glued to the screen. I was fas­ci­nat­ed with the way peo­ple processed their pain (or did­n’t). War films were par­tic­u­lar­ly apt for this, as relent­less years of depres­sion caused me to relate to any sol­dier with a thou­sand yard stare. That glazed, expres­sion­less face spoke of a per­son who had long giv­en up on mak­ing sense of the count­less hor­rors and end­less suf­fer­ing they had gone through.

1000 yard stare

The lights are on, but nobody’s home.

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  1. I’ve come to under­stand how naive it is to think every­one enjoys that kind of mood. []