For everyone who ever waited in a line outside a club while people that knew the bouncer skipped the line. For everyone who spends another minute of their precious time waiting in traffic for god knows what. Work. Home. Traffic bottlenecks. People that don’t know where they are going. Worrying about the home and the kids and a way into or out of the rat race. For everyone waiting for the starting gun on life. For everyone knocking back a few because you can’t find any answers, or to find answers, to your existential questions.
“Gather around the light post. Everyone in line gets in. Quit hiding hiding hiding hiding…”
A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the new definition of punk around a song by It’s a Musical called The Music Makes Me Sick. Even more satisfying than finding out I don’t have to like stuff that sounds like traditional punk just because it’s punk is to find something that does sound like traditional punk that’s really good. Granted, Radio 4 doesn’t really sound like traditional punk. In fact, they are described as “danceable punk” by… um… somebody. (I can’t find a reference for the quote. So I heard it somewhere… Sue me!) But the sound at least suggests a direct punk lineage to bands like The Clash and The Damned.
I think this is a large part of what I am missing about punk. A sense of what suffering is. Punk needs a release from something. When it was just noise and angst, punk addressed a release from an idea that success and happiness in life was attained through some absurdly narrow path. Punk said fear was not a path to success and happiness and that people living this lie were obviously not very successful or happy. Even to play rock and roll in the 70’s, you were up against all of these legendary players. Punk said you didn’t need to be Jimmy Page to play the guitar. You could still express yourself by just grabbing the damn thing and choking it. A lot of what punk is now just sort of needs a release from itself and some ear plugs. But Radio 4 inspires me to write a post that contradicts myself, which I love. I hope I never suggested that I would be consistent.
I think this “quit hiding” concept is this large contemporary metaphor. Maybe it will sound dated, the way hard core punk sounds dated, in about 15 years. Or maybe they hit on a universal truth. So many people hiding in lines and cubicles and social etiquette and professional aspirations. All of these things do produce satisfaction and results, and it’s not that there’s something missing. It’s that there is something additional. No one wants to wait in line for their turn to live. And I don’t think the metaphor is about waiting behind other people with the same aspirations to be done with their turn. It’s just that somehow we don’t allow ourselves to live now. Waiting in line suggests some kind of delay. But if I’m in the line and I feel connected to everyone around me. If I feel satisfied with what I have in that line, then am I really waiting for anything?
“Restless days and shades of gray and muted sounds. And cafe bars play songs no one can bear.”
Amen! I can do without listening to James Taylor again while waiting for my cup of coffee. Maybe he’s good, but that’s not the reason he was chosen to entertain you while you were waiting in line. He was chosen to entertain you because he’s not offensive. It’s a good business practice. If I owned a coffee shop, I would make you listen to James Taylor too.
The point is that absent direct oppression from war and poverty (which is real in many parts of the world), we are really free to be oppressing ourselves and more often than not, I think we go ahead and do that. Everything is about where we are going instead of where we are.
“Gather around the light post. Everyone inside gets in. Quit hiding hiding hiding hiding…”
I love this. Later in the song the line changes. It isn’t “in line”, it’s “inside”. Look friend. You are already inside and you still aren’t enjoying yourself. Where are you? I love the other very punk suggestion. Are you waiting in line for paradise? Maybe you are already there. Maybe you are a legend. Maybe you are looking at a pile of dog shit in a very large and beautiful field.
Open up your eyes. You might have it bad in the affluent society sense of the word. But you are what you are waiting for. There’s nothing for you on the other side of that door that isn’t on this side of the door already. Quit hiding.