How I first began to listen to a song obsessively
For as long as I can remember, I have, when I really like a song, listened to it on repeat for multiple days at a time. You could say I overdose on songs. I don’t know why do this, why I can’t enjoy the song once or twice a day and maybe come back to it later, but I can’t. It is an irrevocable trait of mine I guess and it’s kind of how I am about many many things.
I can’t remember where I first heard “Carnival” by the Cardigans. I do remember how I became aware of tracks of theirs other than their big hit “Lovefool.” It was in my sophomore year of college. I lived on-campus, and all of the students in my general vicinity shared a network. When you opened iTunes you could access the music of people nearby who happened to be on iTunes. It was strange because I knew what music people listened to without having met people. In some cases I did know those people but not that well and so felt a little weird listening to their music but also thought it was a neat form of voyeurism. Most of the music people had was pretty conventional, which was disappointing and yet expected. So I was excited when I came across the music of a girl whose tastes were slightly more eclectic. This included a few songs by the Cardigans that were not “Lovefool,” including a song called “Your New Cuckoo” and “Carnival.”
I loved “Carnival” right away. I became really into it while studying abroad in Paris during the following fall, my junior year. I would play the song in my iPod on repeat virtually every time I was riding the Metro (the Paris subway system).
I love listening to music on trains. I think it’s something about moving smoothly without interruption or control. I think what I like about riding on trains and flying in planes is similar to what I like about music on repeat. It’s the feeling of something being out of your control, of being taken by it. If I love a song, it owns me basically. Same as when I’m on a train or an airplane. I feel a sense of peace about the fact that there is nothing I can do to get from Point A to Point B faster. Unlike every other part of my day, It’s out of my hands. It is also in many ways the best part of my day although it is never the place I strive to get to; it is simply the transition point, “the liminal phase.” The liminal phase is great because you are only looking forward to something. You aren’t there yet and so you cannot be disappointed, but you always want to get there.
It’s like sucking on a Werther’s Original. The best part is when you are sucking on it, but despite this you are so eager to bite down on it. And when you do, the deliciousness is over, and you wish you’d let the candy dissolve a little longer in your mouth before you bit down.
On a train, you are going somewhere, you’re not there yet, and in some ways I think the feeling that you’re going somewhere but not there yet can be better than being there.
I guess unlike a flight or train ride, I do have control over the song. Which is why I play certain songs over and over again.