Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You're a drop of blood in my glass of milk

I can't believe I've been posting my meandering thoughts about music for years now and have never mentioned Jens Lekman!  What up, brain??  Well, no time like now to rectify this situation.  Let it be known, blogosphere: I LOVE JENS LEKMAN WITH A BILLION TINY PINK HEARTS AND YES I'M GOING TO BE THIRTEEN ABOUT THIS.

It was at a Jens Lekman show that I popped my going-to-shows-alone cherry.  Now, I'm a pretty introverted person by default: I can go to the theater alone, I can go to movies alone, and sometimes on lazy weekends I realize I have gone eight hours without uttering a single word to anyone (yikes).  But I was still terrified to go to a concert alone until I randomly threw caution to the wind and bought a single ticket to a Jens Lekman show at Webster Hall in April of 2008.  Best decision ever.  Jens playing live is akin to someone reaching out their hand to you and asking if you'd like to go get some ice cream after you've been crying on a stoop.

Which is why, one recent extra-sad night, I decided to email him.  I wanted so badly to see him live again, but according to his calendar he was staying far away from New York City.  So I sent him a simple plea:
Hello Jens,

When do you think you come back to New York City for a show?  We miss you.  (I miss you.)

Yes, I forgot an important element of grammar in there and I am ashamed.  And yes, I had had a couple beers.  BUT I had nearly forgotten all about sending that email until he emailed me back ten days later:
hello new york.
i miss you too. but we have a lot of old shit to settle first.
first of all, why did you turn your back on me when i was going through the worst time of my life ?
why do you have to be so good to the dreamers, but so cold to the ones who have woken up ?
yours sincerely,
OUCH.  But still - an email from fucking JENS LEKMAN!  I was tempted to send a huge long reply, emptying my heart and telling him how HIS music was saving ME in New York, but I didn't.  Well, OK, I did reply (couldn't resist) with a simple "aw shucks, that's sad, thanks for making your music" kind of thing.  But I was still bummed that there was very little hope of him coming back to NYC any time soon.

WELL - now there's more of a story to his sad reply.  I regularly check in with his blog (which is how I got the idea to email him in the first place) and found this post, along with a link to download his new song, "The End of the World is Bigger Than Love."  This is taken directly from the site:
It was the day before the american election 2008 and I was filled with a hopelessness that only a McCain supporter could have shared with me at the time. I was in Washington DC to perform for swedish TV, sitting in the couch with a profesional smile on my face, joking with the hosts and discussing the lobster with the TV chef. I saw the clips online sometime ago, it's amazing what an actor I can be if I really make an effort.

I lived in America back then, up in New York. At the time I felt like everything I touched was turning to shit and I had decided to put everything on one card. Subconsciously I knew I needed to hit the bottom so I could work my way up again. I needed confirmation, I needed someone to tell me it wasn't going to work out, not this way. Yes, there was a girl involved in this. I was very much in love with her.

Some things you just go through. You don't write about it, you don't turn it into art because it can't be turned into art. I didn't write any songs that year because you can't pour manure into an espresso machine and expect a cappucino to come out. When they announced the results and the streets filled up with people celebrating I felt happy to be part of something bigger than myself. It was a feeling that lasted me until the very last days of December 2008 when I finally sat down in my old teenage room at my parents house and I wrote this song. Then the year ended.

It's a song of hope. When love turns it's back on you it's nice to know there's a world out there that doesn't give a shit about your problems. That forces you to keep your head held high and move on. A world that is fragile and beautiful. Maybe it can sound cold to some of you, but let me make it clear that I believe in love, I just get so wrapped up in it sometimes that I need to put it into proportion. It's something you have to do a lot when you're Jens Lekman.
Awww, JENS!  I just... I just don't know what to do with that, but if I could cry, it would feel like this.  Of course I downloaded the song and of course it's lovely and heartbreaking and full of little NYC references (Flatbush Ave Target!).  I highly recommend that you all download it (it's free!).  You do have to give your email address and maybe that means you'll end up his mailing list, but geez, then you'll get great emails like this one:
I'm looking for anyone who wants to go out dancing tonight in Dublin.
My band members have all gone to sleep and I'm desperate.

/ J
CRAP MY PANTS why don't I live in Dublin??

Jens, we didn't turn our back on you for good.  Please come back to New York.  I'll bring you cupcakes and we can re-enact this video down Houston:

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