Endless Loop 200: American Dream

lcdsoundsystemHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back (for one last time) to Endless Loop.

“American Dream” by LCD Soundsystem

And just like that, I’m 40 years old.

Now, I’m not one of those people that’s terrified of getting older, panicking as the sand grains fall faster and faster through the hourglass.  I don’t feel a midlife crisis coming on.  There are no convertible sportscars or barely legal mistresses or fad drug addictions in my immediate future.  But there is still something almost mythically daunting about that number.  And I don’t really know why.

Aging is like this weird thing that you can see and you can certainly feel, but that somehow still doesn’t quite seem real.  I look in the mirror and I see so many gray and white hairs on the sides of my head and in my beard.  There’s less hair where there used to be and more hair where there used to not be.  Lines deepening, callouses hardening, and a veritable parade of new aches and pains greet me every morning.  My knees crack.  My ankles snap.  And everything’s sore.  All of the time.  I’m getting older.  I can feel it in my bones, even as my heart tries to deny it.  And I’ll notice it tenfold next week when I’m wandering around Austin for SXSW.

Yes, there’s nothing to make you feel your age quite like a music festival, or pop culture in general really.

Still, I enjoy discovering new things to listen to, be it old and forgotten relics of the past or new and youthful upstarts at the dawn of something exciting.  And so I’ll check out some band of 18-year olds I’ve never heard of, standing slightly aback from the crowd of kids, the elder statesman of sorts sipping a craft beer, nodding his head in approval, and hoping desperately that I don’t come off as some sad or creepy old person.

It’s a constant struggle.

And I think in some way, that sentiment lends itself to my adoration of the discography of James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem.  Because what is Murphy if not a self-deprecating, aging hipster following the teenage dream and making beats for the kids to dance to?  He’s the old guy.  He feels like the old guy.  And he writes songs from the point of view of said old guy.  I can relate.

For over a decade I’ve been a fan, but it wasn’t until “American Dream,” the title track from the band’s 2017 “comeback” album, that aside from the hits, grooves, and earworms, I felt something viscerally deep and emotional from them.  “American Dream” hit me hard, and like no other song has in a long, long time.  It’s just full of self-doubt, revelation, and aching, draining regret all set to a swirling and melancholy synthesizer.

What am I doing?

How did I get here?

Where did everything go?

What have I done?

Which brings me back to 40, and why it seems like such a thing or event.  It’s the regret.  It’s all of the doubts and fears and misses swarming your brain and your heart like a plague of gnats you’re just too tired to swat away.  And it’s inescapable.  All those fleeting dreams and goals that morph and change over time, as dreams and goals often do, are maybe forever out of reach or left behind.  It’s hard, and it’s sad, and it’s bleak, and there’s an inherent fallibility to all of it, much like the very notion of the American dream itself.

It’s all so scary to think about.

There’s only so much time to catch up.  And this is where the crises come in, the panicked attempts to start something, or finish something, or address that regret before your time runs out.

And so, I’m 40 now, and there are many things I want or need to start or finish or address, but I’m not going to panic.  There is so very much I thought I might have done by now that remains undone, which means I need to get to work on all of those old dreams and goals, or maybe I need to reevaluate what’s really important to me now.  These things change you know.  I have my wife, and my two beautiful sons, my friends and family, my dog, a roof over my head, my guitar, a pen and notebook, and a pretty bitchin’ record collection.

I think I’ll just start from there.

—–

There you have it.  200 songs and some random thoughts to go along with them.  This has been a fun, sometimes challenging column to write over the last four years, and I encourage every one of you to go back and listen to all 200 of them again, like I’m about to.  Starting…NOW!

 

Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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