Monday, March 21, 2005

Music: The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”

This song has been running on my mental iPod since I first heard it weeks ago. I can’t resist tortured romanticism or a swooning, grandiose chorus. I also can’t resist the music video (reg. req’d.), a sly gloss on Baz Luhrmann’s MOULIN ROUGE! that has the added advantage of being only four minutes long. It makes excellent use of actor Eric Roberts and has some exceptional men’s wear on display. I covet lead singer Brandon Flowers’ suit.

The last few days have been strange ones for me. Professionally, changes are in the works that could have a major impact on my life. And my father suffered what turned out to be a mild heart attack. He’s already out of the hospital, and we had a talk over the weekend in which he was back to complaining about what was on TV. Still, an event like that provokes a lot of thinking about the big subjects.

On Saturday afternoon, I went for a long walk by myself. The weather was miserable, which was part of the reason why I wanted to go out; sometimes you need to brave the elements. As it had for the past few days, “Mr. Brightside” was playing in my head. I was alone on the street, so I began singing it.

In Reed Farrel Coleman’s fine novel WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE, his character Moe Prager notes that “the older one gets, the less one’s life is accompanied by music.” Sad but true. So many moments from my childhood and adolescence are scored to particular songs. Hearing a few notes can conjure up a specific place and time. That kind of intense reaction doesn’t happen much anymore.

That’s when it occurred to me that I would forever associate “Mr. Brightside” with this period of transition and upheaval. The realization was so profound that I knew I would connect the song with the precise instant of epiphany. In thirty years’ time, I’ll be listening to the equivalent of an oldies station on my cranial implant. I’ll hear those opening lyrics --

Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down, because I want it all

-- and at once I’ll be transported back here. Saturday, 2:47 PM, midway up the Counterbalance, rain blowing under the brim of my Mets cap. It was like sending a message to my future self.

The perfect circularity of that moment – reviving the youthful sense of connection so that I’d always remember this consideration of mortality – was powerful. Curiously, it also convinced me that everything would be OK.