Matthew Good – A Single Explosion

Hospital Music
Year :
Bright Eyes / Stars / Pedro the Lion

“I can’t write love songs when I’m on these things;
I’m affable, responsible, but hard to be around.
It’s correctable, and they’re right, you know, it’s as easy as it sounds”

And in three lines, Mr. Good has written you a primer on depression. Well, so long as you can read where the sarcasm comes in.

The album is called Hospital Music. It was written, so the story goes, in the hospital. Good knows of what he speaks. Perhaps that’s what makes it feel exactly how it should. It’s fragile and stark, and more than anywhere else in his catalog, we seem to see the seams holding everything in. They’re loose as hell.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t suffering from depression. As such, Hospital Music is a document that resonates a bit too strongly. It calls up everything I’ve promised myself I will not let myself be. From the taking pills “to get rid of myself” elsewhere, to the taking pills that dull who I am, as in here. The cold hospital sterility. The isolation from who I love, whether that be platonic, familial, or intimate. Depression, like death, is not something we deal with the same way. For me, I know what doesn’t work, and over half my life has been carefully walking the line trying to keep it in check. Usually at the risk of crippling the rest of me. I’ve dealt with the pain and the psychosomatic sicknesses, the panic and the sluggishness. If I could be a bear, to justify hibernating, burrowing away from everyone else and curling up into myself, I’d do it. So long as I don’t end up as the hospital case.

“A Single Explosion” is braver than that. What I (and most) hide, the irrational fears, the need to be near someone, the fevered dreams, is all out on the table. In those few lines above is the conflict and contradiction, the feeling of being out of sorts, and the ignorant perception that many have about depression itself. It’s pretty intimate stuff, especially when most of the people who can confirm spend so much of their time hiding it in shame. It becomes almost a slap in the face, as if exposing someone to it is exposing yourself. Surely they can hear your thoughts as it plays. More of that fear.

This song, though, would strike me even if it was boiled down to nothing more than the bones of the track. It snowballs perfectly, building you further and further up, and then the bottom drops out from under you and you just hang on those last words for dear life. I don’t care how many times I hear it. I don’t care how many times I play it myself. I shiver. Every time.

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Alex Lupica (@Alex_Soundtrack) has been in love with music since he was a toddler, despite its infidelities. (Really, music? Nu-metal? How could you!). Alex is Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Soundtrack.

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