Friday, 25 November 2011

Take It Easy (Love Nothing): A Song That Means Something To Me

I remember the first time I truly realised the importance of Take It Easy (Love Nothing) by Bright Eyes in my life. It wasn't the first time I listened to it, or even the fiftieth time. It was the first time I read it.

The song is taken from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, an album I had been listening to long before I came to appreciate the song itself. Conor Oberst had written and sang me through my first relationships, breakups, and the general raging angst that comes with teenage years and adult youth, largely because he was a teenager himself writing incredible stories from a perspective that felt intimately close to my own.

As Oberst matured himself, so did I, and so did his music. Digital Ash was his 5th album and he was now a young adult at 22 years of age at the time of writing. Upon my first tentative listen to his new material I found myself outraged at what I perceived to be a lack of the relentless emotion that was the trademark of his work, but as I would soon discover it was still there, and there was more; I just had to look (and listen) deeper.

While originally I found nothing remarkable about Take It Easy compared to several other outstanding tracks on the album, late one sleepless night I stumbled across lyrics to the song as I flicked through the album cover art out of sheer boredom. Without listening, I read the words and felt an immediate impact which has stayed with me ever since.

First with your hands, then with your mouth
A downpour of sweat, damp cotton clouds
I was a fool, you were my friend
We made it happen

The song itself concerns a relationship between two close friends and the consequences that come following its abrupt conclusion. Beginning with a description of the two friends awkward first sexual encounter, Oberst describes himself as a fool for becoming involved in the situation, yet it is seemingly unstoppable as the two feel as though it must happen sometime or another.

You took off your clothes, left on the light
Stood there so brave, you used to be shy
Each feature improved, each movement refined
And eyes like a showroom

As soon as I read those words I was brought back to an early teenage relationship of mine involving a close friend who I had never intended to become anything more. Oberst's wording made it possible to psychically and mentally feel the same feelings as I had back then, knowing a mistake was being made but at the same time unable to stop.

Now they're spreading out the blankets on the beach
Oh the weatherman’s a liar, he said it'd be raining
But it's clear and blue as far as I can see

As the Oberst's relationship and my own began, a invincible feeling took over which convinced me that despite friends warnings ('the weatherman'), everything was going to be perfect. However this was to change drastically and very soon.

Left by the lamp, right next to the bed
On a cartoon cat pad she scratched with a pen
‘’Everything is as it's always been
This never happened’’

The sudden and sharp rejection that Oberst and myself felt was only worsened by a bitterly dismissive and cold hearted attitude from our respective partners.

Don't take it too bad, its nothing you did
Just once something dies, you can't make it live
You're a beautiful boy, you're a sweet little kid
But I am a woman’’

While it's easy now to look back and laugh at the sheer devastation I felt due to my first tiny heartbreak, at the time nothing had ever seemed so important or real. In my mind I was crushed and beyond repair.

So I lay back down, wrapped myself up in the sheet
And I must have looked like a ghost cos something frightened me
And since then I've been so good at vanishing

This sudden heartbreak combined with an adolescent craving for drama and tragedy led to me swearing to myself I could never make the same mistake again, and would never allow myself to feel the same way, just as Oberst writes himself.

Now I do as I please, I lie through my teeth
Someone might get hurt, but it won't be me
She'll probably feel cheap, but I’ll just feel free
And a little bit empty

No it isn't so hard to get close to me
There'll be no arguments, we will always agree
And I’ll try and be kind when I ask you to leave
We'll both take it easy

If you stay too long inside my memory
I will trap you in a song tied to a melody
And I’ll keep you there so that you can't bother me

I held this stance for some time, feeling that Oberst had defined my exact situation and justified my bitter attitude. Admittedly, this juvenile relationship makes for cringe worthy writing, and while I have grown up since and look back mockingly at my former teenage self, I won't forget what these words meant to me then, and still do due to their lyrical storytelling brilliance regardless of my situation.

Ultimately, 'Take It Easy' represented a particular time in my life, and upon hearing it anytime presently it fills me with a bittersweet nostalgia of a certain time when everything felt so complicated but was actually far simpler than I thought. It reminds me of a particular summer, a particular person and a particular side to myself. It is a song which will remain important to me throughout my life and has proven to remain significant to me following my growing maturity and differing attitudes towards life and love.

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