Happiness is a funny thing. Pure happiness will make you sick, something that can only be expressed part ironically. The Todd Solondz film 'Happiness' expresses this best, because the whole story is crushing, since happiness is entirely central to the plot as a mcguffin that everyone is chasing and nobody has. The stories that have truly happy endings are the ones that have unhappiness overcome; and while MJ Hibbett's song "being happy doesn't make you stupid" is utterly true and honest, I still associate pure, unadulterated happiness with idiocy and a shit-eating grin. It feels like a disney con, like a fascist ideal, something to rebel against; how can you be truly happy in an imperfect world? and how can you tell any interesting stories in a perfect world? As Primo Levi quotes at the start of The Periodic Table "troubles overcome are good to tell"; while his later suicide casts doubt on whether he ever really overcame them, the quote reminds us to celebrate what victories we can.
Belle and Sebastian make me happy. 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' brings me back to A levels, minidiscs, and my friendship with Tom Brimelow, who introduced me to loads of good bands, as well as every friend I have shared a love of B&S throughout two universities and everything since. They're a touch-stone for any potential friend; occupying a similar musical fort to early Nick Drake, they're both the strangely rare combination of happy and mellow. Something to stick on the turntable and have a conversation and some very mild narcotics over; tea, real ale, and/or spliffs.
Super simple chords, melodic, a beautiful arrangement, weird little 'whoop' sounds, all-gorgeous harmonies, the music is just what you need. It's warm and comforting and twee and sweet and genuine and unpretentious...
I only knew a few lyrical fragments from 'Sleep the Clock Around'; something about valium, something about 'milk to get rid of taste', something about 'the memory will shine'. Looking over the lyrics now, it's exactly what fits the mood of the song and weirdly in touch with what I've been saying;
And the moment will come when composure returns
Put a face on the world, turn your back to the wall
And you walk twenty yards with your head in the air
Down the Liberty Hill, where the fashion brigade
Look with curious eyes on your raggedy way
And for once in your life you've got nothing to say
And could this be the time when somebody will come
To say, "Look at yourself, you're not much use to anyone"
Take a walk in the park, take a valium pill
Read the letter you got from the memory girl
But it takes more than this to make sense of the day
Yeah, it takes more than milk to get rid of the taste
And you trusted to this, and you trusted to that
And when you saw it all come, it was waving the flag
Of the United States of Calamity, hey!
After all that you've done, boy, I know you're going to pay
In the morning you come to the ladies salon
To get all fitted out for The Paperback Throne
But the people are living far away from the place
Where you wanted to help, it's a bit of a waste
And the puzzle will last until somebody will say
"There's a lot to be done while your head is still young"
If you put down your pen, leave your worries behind
Then the moment will come, and the memory will shine
Now the trouble is over, everybody got paid
Everybody is happy, they are glad that they came
Then you go to the place where you've finally found
You can look at yourself, sleep the clock around
This is about overcoming the mental ogre that stands between you and happiness, over a perfectly jolly riff. Like 'being happy...', it's about throwing down your introspective diary and just living, because the analysis doesn't help the problem - the analysis *is* the problem. maybe. They're actually great lyrics and I'm sorry that I've never read them before (see day 8).
But anyway, for all that this makes me happy, maybe it's just because it's one of the few songs about getting enough sleep. 87)