tremble clef

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lloyd Cole, "Rolodex Incident" (2006)

"Rolodex Incident," a track that closes the new Lloyd Cole album Antidepressant, begins with a poignant, extended instrumental passage. For almost two minutes, a piano tinkles up and down the scale, exhibiting what seems like a bit of restlessness, before it's eventually joined by an mournfully plucked guitar. "Tripped on your rolodex," the song's narrator begins, "brought up a cloud of dust. I had to take an antihistamine, before I could move on, and assess the damage done." He examines the rolodex, and spotting what "you wrote" in it, indeed sees a kind of damage: "In case of loss..."

At this point, the singing pauses, and we get another instrumental break, as if the narrator became too choked up at reading those initial words. "In case of loss," he finally returns to the inscription in the rolodex, "'it said 'Return to this address.'" It's not clear if these lines are followed by an actual address, or if "this" is some sort of existential joke: after all, if all the instructions said was "return to this address," then the rolodex would never be lost, since it would always be right here at "this" spot, and thus where it is always supposed to be.

"So here we are," the narrator continues, "except you don't live here anymore. And I guess I'm leaving. I guess I'm getting around to leaving. And then again, remember when I asked for just a little quiet please?" What happened? Who, or what has been lost? Even if the rolodex has been separated from "you," which of the two is actually displaced? You may not live here anymore, but the narrator himself is likewise leaving. Does the rolodex stay, or go with him? And which action would return it to its rightful place, or is that no longer possible? The word "melancholy" has become general and vague in its meaning, and I certainly use, or even overuse, it indiscriminately. But Freud at least suggests that, in melancholia, the people who suffer the loss do not even know what they have lost, nor even, sometimes, that they have lost at all. "In case of loss...in case of loss," but do we always recognize the case?

4 Comments:

  • His finest song in years. Period. I LOVE it. Am very pleased with his new music.

    By Blogger xolondon, at 7:25 AM  

  • I stopped keeping track of Lloyd after his first or second solo album, so I can't make the same proclamation as you, but I'm reasonably willing to believe it -- there are some very nice tracks on the album, and I'm pleasantly surprised by how much less nasal his voice is now. (Though, as I said, maybe it's been that way for years, and I just never paid attention.)

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:21 PM  

  • When you write "after all, if all the instructions said was "return to this address," then the rolodex would never be lost, since it would always be right here at "this" spot, and thus where it is always supposed to be" I'm reminded of how, back when I was in grad school, my friend and I made up a song lyric to the tune of Bowie's Young Americans called 'Young Lacanians' which went: 'Do you remember the letter you posted?/Do you remember the petit objet a or even yesterday? All night he wants the young Lacanian!" Well it was funny at the time...

    By Blogger harvey molloy, at 7:14 AM  

  • That's still funny. I'm especially enjoying imagining the backing vocals ("He was a young Lacanian!!! Alllll right!")

    By Blogger Brittle, at 7:11 PM  

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