Friday, November 11, 2016

Iggy Pop, "Sister Midnight"

This has been a hard week. I feel like I have lived a lifetime since Monday. Music has been one of the few things capable of me getting through my days, and I have been leaning hard on some old chestnuts. Today I listened to a ton of Berlin-era Bowie and Iggy Pop, my mourning for the nation intertwined with my mourning for Bowie. This music has always been perfect for me in my dark times past, since it comes from Bowie and Pop both recovering from addiction and getting their lives on track after some years in the spiritual wilderness.

"Sister Midnight" is the first song on The Idiot, the first of the Berlin albums (the others being Pop's Lust for Life and Bowie's trilogy of Low, "Heroes," and Lodger.)  It sets the tone perfectly with a rigid, robotically tight groove, an inspired combination of Kraftwerk and Funkadelic. The guitar, as on the rest of the album, buzzes with dread and fear. I imagine its otherworldly hum being the constant background noise in the heads of the replicants from Blade Runner. Iggy intones with his deep voice, "Calling sister midnight," which I interpret as a call for spiritual help in the midst of being consumed by darkness.

Iggy tells of his disturbing, Oedipal nightmares, asking Sister Midnight for help. He confesses that "I am a breakage inside." This is someone at the end of his tether, but oddly calm about it, as if he cannot imagine what it was ever like to be happy and normal. This is what it is like at the very pit of despair, abandoned by everyone.

Sometimes it feels good when I'm down to wallow a little in that feeling, to look into the abyss. So many dark cold nights I've spent with this song, and when those first spooky chords hit I'm able to turn inward and let get at the core of ill feelings. Tonight is no exception.

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