Monday, May 01, 2023

This Year: 1987

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

Some of the songs in this series are about me, and some aren't. This one, I think, isn't. Or maybe I thought it would be about me, but my life didn't go that way.

I like sad songs; I've said that before. Sometimes I think I like that that sadness enough that I don't really care what they're sad about - I'm looking for the feeling, the emotion, to sink into that song and come out the other side. (There are some minor-key songs that I have on sad-songs playlists that are, objectively, not actually sad at all, but they sound sad, which is the most important thing.)

For 1987, my song is from Guadalcanal Diary, a great but now basically forgotten jangle-pop band with a string of excellent work in the '80s. [1] The song is 3AM.

It's about alcoholism, mostly. And I have my obsessive qualities - oh, do I ever! - but I've never really flirted with addiction, and I never drank all that much.

Well, maybe I should walk that back. I listened to this song mostly in my college years, and I definitely used alcohol to cope then. Big party? Big anxiety about going to a party? Make sure to "pre-game" enough ahead of it. So maybe then-me was smarter than I give him credit for: maybe he saw where that road could lead.

3AM is a slow, hazy song, like the feeling at the end of a long, long night full of various substances. Or maybe the next day, when you're fragile at best and broken at worst. It allusive and quiet - when you're drunk or hungover, you never want to - or maybe can - get too specific about anything.

It's another song with blurred characters - there's the singer, and "you," and an occasional "him." They're not all the same person, but they're all on the same path. They might be able to change, but none of that is in the song: the song is about giving in and wondering what happened and going with the flow and just being in that state.

Never mind, it's always 3AM.

[1] The other Guadalcanal Diary songs I thought about including here were the bouncy, goofy, lovely "....Vista" and two dark visionary driving rock songs, "Pray for Rain" and "Michael Rockefeller."

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