Because most people who live or will live on the earth are going to die without hearing your songs, sometimes I am afraid that you don’t believe me when I say I love your music. I am afraid that you think that I listened to your record once and it maybe made my skin feel a bit nice. That I want to think of myself as the kind of person who would say they love your music. That, as a journalist, it is my duty to enjoy at least some of the music that comes my way, and it might as well be yours.
Because you have never toured Europe or opened for Björk or sold enough records to feed yourself for a month, I am afraid you think I am childish or naïve, or that I am trying to get you to like me as a person when I say your music is beautiful and good and has become a real deep part of me. I am afraid that you think your music is a passing blush on my busy life, a fixation soon headed for the dusty back corners of my hard drive. I am afraid you think I’m exaggerating.
Here is what I mean: when I go to sleep, I want to bring your music with me so that it can let me dream of floating weightless over endless roiling oceans. I tangle my hair in my headphones to drift off caged in your lullabies. I set my alarm clock to play your music so that when I wake up, the first thing I remember about the world is that your music exists inside it.
I mean that I love how your music doesn’t sound like you’re from Brooklyn, or Chicago, or Seattle, or anywhere but deep space where you float singing the astronauts to sleep. I mean that I love hearing in each song the hours of your work, the way your labor solders your chords together. I love that I can hear how you finally bridged a stubborn mistake to birth your best song.
I mean that listening to your music is a ritual I approach with reverence — a daily prayer, a meditation. I mean that hearing those first notes trickle over me seals me in a shelter where for forty minutes I am protected from the dry rasps of the world that is not your music. I mean that I feel safe inside your sadness.
I mean that I love guessing which of your songs are about killing yourself, or killing your father, or killing the person you were in 2008. I love catching the shadows of your dead friends slipping out from around the corners. I love when, after tens and tens of plays, an unintelligible lyric finally unravels itself into language, like a secret you’ve been jailing behind your grin.
I mean that your music is the opposite of boredom. I mean that I burrow into your music when I am too tired to look at any other part of the world. I wrap your music tight in my sheets and I pour your music out the windows of my car. I imagine that listening to your music alone in the damp autumn dark feels a little like how it must feel to be a lightning bug whose only work in the world is to glow.
I mean that I wish I could burn down capitalism so you could quit your shitty day job and spend all day curled up with your guitar carving new melodies into the air. I wish you didn’t have to worry about how you are going to piece together next month’s rent. I wish the world were arranged to reward you more for creating this real and good and powerful thing, this music that I love so much.
I imagine that your music is a graveyard for all the people you have been every time you sat down to record a song, and perhaps also for all the people you hoped you might be by the time the song was done. I hear in your music the mutating outlines of the person you are now and the person you are fighting every day to become.
I mean that when I see you sing into a microphone with your eyes closed, the blue stage lights glancing off your face, I feel bottomlessly proud, entranced, lucky. I mean that the rooms you fill with your songs are some of the best rooms I’ve ever stood in. I mean that when I stand in a room that’s filled with your songs I become both aware and unafraid of that time when I am going to have to die.
I mean that your music makes me want to be better. That because of your music, I can stave off the ugly things that creep into my head when the days get dark and the weather gets cold. I can scoop up the parts of me that are spilling all over the floor. I can get on with the day, and the week, and the next.
What I mean is this: don’t stop. When it seems like the future of music-makers is flaking away, when it seems like yours is just one voice echoing into an indifferent blankness, when it feels like you won’t “make it,” whatever that means to you. Don’t stop, because this earth’s lonely enough without your giving up. Don’t stop, because I need more songs to sew into the inside of my ribs.