It's 1:40 in the am and I'm driving home alone.
The sky's clear and dark. I ruminate on the night, life, the future. Random images and thoughts begin seeping along my consciousness like silty mud running from a swollen river into an open field--fuzzy, unfocused, intermittently negative.
But then the drums start, a mid-tempo throb of purpose. The silt runs in reverse, receding back into the waterline. Clarity--the first of several hot moments of it--rides the rhythm. The near-black sky etches the highway in front of me into sharp graphic-novel relief. Laser focus. I roll down the windows and crank up the volume.
Spikes of guitar jab into the top of the backbeat; then the bass starts its sturdy surge of rhythm. The pulse of the car against the uneven asphalt punctuates the low thrum. As though by uncontrollable gravitational pull, my foot presses down on the gas...65 mph...70mph...
A scarred and sensual voice rasps out the lyrics with barely-coiled, all-or-nothing urgency. Wounded romance, or maybe a projection of it, runs through some of the words. Some of them don't make literal sense. But I understand them all, I feel them all as the car accelerates.
"When that blood goes rattling through my veins, my ears start to ring; I notice what matters."
Rays of bright light stream through the lyrics--not the hokey positivity of some granola-huffing passive-aggressive hippie, but the hard-won vitality of a thinking badass. And that's what I am right now, thanks to the dark and sweet fix provided by the steady rhythm, the rabbit-punch melody, and the wind circulating relentlessly around me. My foot gravitates closer to the floor...75...80mph...
"I've got nuffin' to lose but darkness and shadows...Got nuffin' to lose but bitterness and patterns..."
All those reams of pages of words about being one-with-the-road make total clarion sense right now. The few night-owl souls sharing the asphalt with me dissolve, their red tail-light eyes staring blankly as I soar past them. I weave along the ribbon of cement like a serpent in high gear. 85mph...90mph...
It's driving with the top down; not giving a damn, yet feeling utterly focused and connected to the world around you. It's the all-or-nothing dizzying lure of the road; the explosion of energy that renders birth and sex and death all impulses springing forth from the same well. It's the terrifying and exhilarating jolt of change from within and without. For the three minutes and fifty-six seconds that the song throbs through the car speakers, all of the above swirls inside me--in crystal-clear six-channel stereo, painted across the dark blue late-night/early morning sky in glorious pin-prick starlight brush strokes. I feel cucumber-cool, dangerous, beautiful, happy, and charged, like the entire promise of the world's in my hot little hand.
I exit the freeway and wind down the car. But the feeling's still there, hopping around inside me.
Then my finger hits Replay.
The object of the game of course, is to spike that vein, to mine that feeling even when the music's not insinuating itself into my ears or my brain. I'm working on it. Meanwhile, Spoon's "Got Nuffin," the best driving-song-that's-not-really-about-driving that I've heard all year, is a damned good jump-start. I have no idea whether or not it'll hit you the way it did me, but for what it's worth here it is, courtesy of Youtube. Have a good weekend, all.