Saturday, September 8, 2018

Roxy Music, "More Than This"

The temperature dropped today in that very September way that signals the turn from summer into autumn. Autumn has always been my favorite season, and while every seasonal change dredges up memories both personal and musical, the one in September is by far the most evocative to me.

Perhaps it's because I was born in September, and my body is also aware that it has just completed another trip around the sun. It also doesn't hurt that as a teacher I am back in the classroom with a new cast of fresh faces.

Usually this time of year I bust out music that has long served as the soundtrack to this journey, like REM's Automatic for the People album. However, this year I rediscovered a song that is number one on my Top 40 autumn songs with a bullet: "More Than This" by Roxy Music.

I'd been diving back into Roxy after listening to a really good podcast episode about the making of their first record. I am a sucker for 1970s art rock and Brian Eno, so I love those first two albums before Eno split. I never really spent much time with what came after, partially because I just didn't "get" Brian Ferry's schtick. The tuxedoed crooner thing never seemed to work with the context of the music, which I felt was ill-served by the singer's approach.

I decided today to listen to the band's swan song, Avalon, an album an old girlfriend had loved but I could never give myself over to. For some reason "More Than This" really sank its teeth into me this time. It could have been the early 80s synthesizer production done right, the catchiness, or the lyrical theme of resignation, but I think it was the fall weather. It seemed to be the exact right song at the right time, a rumination on the unchanging nature of a world without redemption. As the song goes, "There's nothing more than this."

Seasonal changes are a reminder that nature and world will keep going with or without us. That can be a scary thought, but I find it comforting, even sublime. It was especially sublime to get that message from a song that truly revealed itself to me years after I first heard it. Big things rarely change, but small things can in the best ways. Here's to the small but profound changes.

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