Monday, February 27, 2023

This Year: 1978

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

Here's another one I know I loved at the time - maybe even the very same year, if not really soon afterward.

This also may be the song that reinforces just how quirky I am. This is my favorite song by this band: it's not even close. Nothing else is even in the running, all of those arena-filling anthems and rock-opera masterpieces - which I like, don't get me wrong, and even feel what I think other people feel when they hear them. But this song is something else, something more, and I feel it in my bones when that intro starts up with all its beeps and boops.

For 1978, the one song above all for me is from The Who. And it's 905.

(If ever anything prefigured that I was meant to edit SF, it would be this.)

It's a chilly song, one that tells a SFnal story that is also deeply metaphorical, if not allegorical. It's a song for anyone who ever felt like a cog in the machine, who ever thought "everything I do's been done before." I don't know why nine-year-old me imprinted so strongly on that - I think the sound of the song, that oddly syncopated electronic drone that starts it and continues throughout, was what grabbed me first, and the lyrics made a slightly later impression.

I don't know how to take that last line of the refrain: "each end of my life is an open door." It seems more positive than everything else in the song, on its face, which probably means I'm reading it wrong. Open doors usually mean possibilities and choices. But here, maybe, it just means that nothing will ever end - that there's no way out. It's not the kind of open door you walk through; it's the kind of open door that means you can see everything, and know it's all the same, forever.

And yet: it's not a depressing song. It's not happy; I won't claim that. There's a quiet power to it, a sense of acceptance, a deep understanding, maybe. 905's life is what it is; the world is the way it is. There's no room for anger or sadness when everything is completely known - it's almost Buddhist in that kind of radical acceptance.

Well, almost. 905 does have one wish, one missing piece - "that feeling deep inside that somethin' is missing." And, maybe, he will be the one "to tell the whole world the reason why." We all wish that, don't we? And if we all wish something, it has to come true, somehow, someway...right?

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