Sometimes a song latches on to your soul and refuses to let go. You may listen to it one thousand times and declare that you’re through with the damn thing. And weeks, months… a year later, it will sneak up on and sucker punch you in the kidney. And like an old love that keeps a room in the darkest corner of your heart, that song lurks. Waiting. Waiting.
It’s a curse, but often the greatest cure. Such is the case of Badly Drawn Boy’s “I Love N.Y.E.” from his wonderful soundtrack to the film “About A Boy”.
I came across this album long before I even saw the movie. It must have been a good year because I did not see “About A Boy” until it was on DVD. But I had read some glowing review of Badly Drawn Boy’s music stating that it was one of the greatest soundtracks since “The Graduate.” I knew that Badly Drawn Boy was a hug Springsteen fan, and I am also an enormous fan of Simon and Garfunkel and “The Graduate”, so I figured I couldn’t lose. And I was right.
But it’s not the folk songs and the lovely lyrics that I gravitated to when I began listening to this song. “I Love N.Y.E.” is an instrumental piece. Repetitive in some ways, it fits nicely into the film, but there is something so haunting and familiar about the way the guitars gently play against a celesta and the strings that I’m always lured into this one. As it slowly builds into a gorgeous ending, it’s another one of those compositions that offers hope to anyone listening. Perhaps that’s why I listened to it over and over that first summer after Jake was born and he went into the hospital with pneumonia.
The stress of having my child in an LA hospital, while we lived an hour away, and Sophie was back home, but Julie was with Jake… I needed a release. I needed to cry, to put it bluntly. This song helped me. It got so much anxiety and sadness and anger out of me that I was able to compose myself before I went into the hospital or I picked up Sophie on the way home from work. Turns out I’m more like my father that I care to admit. I have a difficult time showing tears in front of them. I don’t want them to see me cry. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe I have this stupid notion that it will make me less of a man.
Toward the end of the song, the strings begin a counter melody and that’s what always drives home everything. Those strings slowing working up the scale will forever remind me of my son. They will forever be imbedded in my psyche that sadness is just under the surface of everything I do or say. And I can’t get rid of that sadness. There’s nothing I can do, unless I release it with something as wonderful and beautiful as this song.
I’m sure we all have melodies that are attached to a person or a time in our lives, but like I stated at the beginning, there are some basement songs that catch you at the strangest moments and not matter what your doing, everything boils to the surface. Case in point: Sunday night we went over to Budd and Karyn’s to watch some of the Academy Awards show. Three beers in, we’re all having a great time. Everyone drifts to the kitchen while I’m still wading through some commercials and on comes this lame Saturn commercial. At least, I think it was lame, because I didn’t see any of it. The music used during the spot was, you guessed it, “I Love N.Y.E” And out of the blue, I nearly lost it. Up to that point I had been in a splendid mood. It was so nice to be with my brother and his family. It was so nice to hear the kids playing together. It felt like the old times back in North Hollywood. And this damn song had to creep into the room and knock me upside the head.
Why? Why did it have to come that night? Don’t we live with the constant reminder that Jake is fighting CF? Can’t we just have one fucking night of peace? But there is no peace, is there? It will always be there, lurking around underneath with the sadness. And the soundtrack to that sadness is Badly Drawn Boy.
And yet, I can’t stop listening to that song. As much as it pains me to play that song, I need that song. For three minutes and twenty seconds, I allow myself to let go and get rid of some of the sadness. And more than anything else, I need that the most.