Wordsmith Wednesday: Nirvana’s “Aero Zeppelin”

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Our words this Wednesday come from a song off Nirvana’s first demo that appeared on their 1992 compilation album Incesticide.

The lyrics from “Aero Zeppelin” are:

“All the kids will eat it up/
If it’s packaged properly”

There were a handful of Nirvana lines I considered highlighting this week, but I settled on these because they seem relevant outside my skull. Kurt Cobain’s lyrics/music/interviews /art/writings were essential to the shaping of my identity from about age twelve to fourteen, teaching me to reject racism/sexism/homophobia/heteronormativity/ consumerism in ways that weren’t stilted or self-righteous. He gave me values to align myself with before I had any idea what that meant. He showed me it was OK to try to be an individual in a society that seemed to always be actively trying to limit your individually in its self interest. Maybe I’m just getting old or paranoid (or both), but I’m afraid adolescents are at a loss for contemporary role models that provide that same encouragement to resist the strong desire to shape identity around the things they have and want to have. There’s money and influence in exploiting a consumer’s insecurities, and who is more insecure than kids? It’s way easier to be a good little consumer, attaching one’s own worth and that of others to brands and products, than to create meaning and value for oneself. Don’t get me wrong, we all consume. Sometimes it’s just knowing when to puke.

Thanks for showing me how to stick a finger down my throat, Kurt.

– NR

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Jonathon Safran Foer’s “Everything Is Illuminated”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is a short, little quote from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. It reads,

“The only thing more painful than being an active forgetter is to be an inert rememberer.”

The memories that we can’t shake, the ones that never seem to leave us, the ones that replay like a broken record over and over again in our heads with nothing we can do to stop them, those are the ones that sting and burn and fester. Like a wound on your knuckle that opens every time you write, or grab, or hold something, these motions are impossible to quit and yet they are a constant reminder of the pain that caused them. Forcing yourself to forget a memory feels awful, even shameful, but never being able to forget, never being able to act on those moments that you do remember, in that lays a heartbreaking regret.

– KK

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Elliott Smith’s “Ballad of Big Nothing”

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Our words this Wednesday come from Elliott Smith’s song “Ballad of Big Nothing” off his record Either/Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997).

The lyrics are:

“Do what you want to whenever you want to/
though it doesn’t mean a thing/
Big Nothing”

Smith is undoubtedly a master of commonplace melancholy, but these words speak to a ever-present psychic thread that pulls at my mind: life is inherently meaningless. All your desires and dreads are transient. Every personal triumph or tragedy only has as much importance as you ascribe to it. These lines always sound like a smirk in the face of people so bent on having what they perceive as freedom that they lose sight of the fact that your ability to do what you want doesn’t necessarily fulfill any ultimate end, but rather just gives you access to a million new beginnings. Real freedom probably lies somewhere between realizing there is no perfect, achievable end and being able to consciously choose which beginnings to ascribe meaning to. Oh, and I love the way he sings it.

– NR

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Manchester Orchestra’s “Cope”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from the song “Cope” off of Manchester Orchestra’s 2014 album Cope.

“Now I hope if there is one thing that we know
From the way that you and I will wander on
And we won’t become a lifeless lope that wanders round and hopes for sorrow”

In these few lines, Andy Hull touches on the hope that after everything that have learned, everything we have gone through, we will not go back to our old habits. Instead of searching for reasons to wallow in our own misery, he extends the possibility to learn a new way to cope with what is thrown at us from all directions. Be it the existential crisis of our twenties or the constant filling of listlessness during the winter months, Hull pushes towards a new way of viewing the situation you’re in. In turn, Hull creates Hope, Cope’s counterpart.

– KK

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