Friday, November 11, 2022

What do you say about a song? Notes on November 10, 2021

Hell wakes you up choking and you feel so afraid,

help! is this my place?

Searching to find what to say, am I okay?

Coheed & Cambria's "Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord)" was released on a Wednesday. That was not the most notable arrival that week: Ben, my firstborn, was 'released' on November 7, and our family was released from the hospital that Tuesday.

Which circles us back to Wednesday. Our dog, finally settling down after a few days at Uncle Bill's house. Rachel and I, with much help from her mom, settling into a routine. Ben, settling into being a cute newborn. This might be hindsight, but I can't remember when it occurred to me that my life would go on, that this very sudden flash of my son's arrival, a month early no less, would change from extraordinary to routine. Not to say as we celebrate his first birthday that he is not extraordinary (he is), but at some point I had to wonder when I would get back to checking twitter, listening to music, building anticipation for new music, planning concert tickets for upcoming tours, etc. I wonder when I had that thought. New parent, old habits. 

I like to imagine Rachel was getting some much needed sleep, her mom and I sitting in the living room, something on the tv, half-awake. Ben snoozing in his swing, maybe his bassinet. What I remember for sure is I was sitting on the couch when a notification on my phone at 12:03 a.m.:

In my lizard Coheed fan brain I knew I couldn't blast this off of my cell phone: what if I woke up any of the blissful sleeping creatures in the house? Should I leap up and grab headphones? Should I wait until tomorrow? What if Ben wakes up while I'm listening? This all flashes between my ears and behind my eyes in seconds as I get up to find my airpods, of course I'm going to listen to the new single from Coheed & Cambria.

I don't really know if there's something to learn here. Maybe the lesson is that becoming a parent doesn't require you jettison your old hobbies, habits, passions. I certainty didn't feel pressure to do that from anywhere except my own dumb sense of obligation (which manifested in an ill-advised fire-sale of vinyl from the record collection during Rachel's first trimester). Maybe the lesson is your old passions have a heighted sense, because everything in my life after Ben was born suddenly had a heightened sense. Maybe the lesson is that Coheed & Cambria make ass-kicking guitar rock.

I'm not interested in a lesson so much as I am interested in coincidence. It is a fact that when Ben was born one of my lives ended and a new life began. It is another fact that two days later "Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord)" came out. It is yet another fact that the narrative arc of VAXIS Act II: A Window of the Waking Mind is specifically about parents trying to make sense of welcoming a child into their lives. And finally, it is a fact that while I was listening to "Rise" for the first time, in the dark, while everyone (dog included) I loved in this new and overwhelming way, slept, I heard the following lyrics:

Call me and I'll be there
when you need your great, great destroyer
oh my, baby boy
don't you cry, it's you and I
in a do or die
now cut the cord

Jack White (couldn't get through a post without a name drop) once said "maybe it means everything maybe it doesn't mean anything" but how can you tell me, dear reader, that the day I come home with my newborn that this song comes out. While I am knotted by terror and insecurity something so familiar and comforting sings into my ears in a lyric about Vaxis's mother: "you've got to believe / you've got to be strong for her." Shit, me too, I probably think.

There are specific details about that week I do not remember too well, as you can imagine. But what I do remember, and will never forget, is every time I listened to this song, and every time I listen to it still, I think of that small bundle of blankets living and breathing. I think of myself floating around the block on a walk with the dog, rushing home to my baby boy. I probably could have invented some meaning to ascribe to bringing Ben home to a Coheed & Cambria song. To use an in-universe joke here, the metaphor really hits you over the head with a hammer.

What do you say about a song that comes at the right place at the right time? On November 7, 2021: Ben was born, and my life began again.

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