34. A noble species of sadness
November 23rd, 2020

Lambchop - Reservations
(File under: music, covers, wilco, ambience)

Listen: lambchop.bandcamp.com/track/reservations

It’s fitting that the only thing I was enthusiastic about last week was 13 minutes of melancholy ambience with some piano chords thrown in, and that I couldn’t even send it to you on time.

Not that melancholy is the enemy of enthusiasm. I’m working my way through Alain de Botton’s The School of Life: An Emotional Education, and he calls melancholy “a noble species of sadness”, adding:

Modern society’s mania is to emphasize buoyancy and cheerfulness. It wishes either to medicalize melancholy states—and therefore ‘solve’ them—or to deny them their legitmacy altogether. Yet melancholy springs from a rightful awareness of the tragic structure of every life. We can, in melancholy states, understand without fury or sentimentality that no one truly understands anyone else, that loneliness is universal and that every life has its full measure of shame and sorrow.

Then, later:

There are melancholy landscapes and melancholy pieces of music, melancholy poems and melancholy times of day, In them, we find echoes of our own griefs returned back to us without some of the personal associations that, when they first struck us, made them particularly agonizing.

Finally, perhaps most importantly:

The more melancholy a culture can be, the less its individual members need to be persecuted by their own failures, lost illusions and regrets.

In that spirit, here’s Lambchop’s cover of Wilco’s ‘Reservations’. If the ambience of the original was a migraine in a submarine, Lambchop’s is a low resolution JPEG of empty meadow. Here’s hoping the griefs it echoes back to you are kindly diminished.

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