I have listened to this song on repeat nigh constantly for at least a week with only a few breaks for other music. Spotify doesn't count plays as far as I can tell, but I've listened to it at least one to three hours a day- a few hundreds of times.
This is absolutely insane behavior. I know it is, but I can't help it; I spiral.
Like many folks I know, I suffered from pretty serious depression as a teenager. It was common for me to spiral down into myself and just become numb with emptiness. I dealt with this then by diving into art, becoming over absorbed by whatever project had my attention at the time. It probably wasn't very good but was at least a positive outlet for my unhappiness, and rather than becoming encased in my anxiety and obsessing over the unimaginable scope of the universe and the vacuum of death, I would instead become obsessed with the creation of beauty from nothing. I wrote pages of songs, pouring over chords and lyrical progression. I wrote insane stories; I drew thousands of eyes, I learned to costume. I would spiral into my art instead of my sadness.
The depression cleared up like pubescent acne, but my brain is still constantly buzzing with curiosity and analysis. Humans are complicated, beautiful, tragic; both unimportant and extremely important, pure joy and utterly terrifying all at once. I love people. I find us enthralling and exciting. How can we all be so different and yet also so prone to falling into the same patterns? What's the point of anything we do when in the end we'll just be dust? What is it about our mortal time limit that causes some people to lash out with hate and anger and others to live with boundless impulsive love; and how are the people who simply live their lives from day to day able to do it so routinely, knowing that they're going to die sometime far too soon? I'm sure faith in a god concept helps somewhat. I don't know; I’ve never been able to hold onto one, myself. It's a negative consequence, assumedly, of being an overeducated, overprivileged and acutely self aware child of both the suburbs and the Holocaust. My fear of death and inability to rationalize it has left me laying awake in a panic more often than I should probably cop to.
Anyway, as you can imagine music has always helped me when I would start to feel the existential crisis coming on. It’s a reminder that there are many people around who aren't complacent, who’re just as aware and confused about the human condition as I am and trying to handle it the best they can as well. We are instinctively herd animals; knowing that you aren't alone is probably the most important thing to remember to maintain sanity and comfort in your life.
All told, it's no surprise that I gravitated towards burlesque. It combines so many of my favorite things; music, visual art, storytelling, theater, costuming, social interaction, sociopolitical subversion, and nudity. It's an artform that wholly allows you to explore the human condition, if you want to; to pull apart the shame we place on the things that ought to connect us the most, the taboos we have created to establish authority and hierarchy, the baseless societal restrictions that diminish certain people and qualities simply to establish a false sense of order and comfort. I mean; or it can just be a celebration of titties. That's pretty great, too.
Now that burlesque is my main artform, usually (though not always) I wind up finding the spark of inspiration in a song and become instantly obsessed. Like I said before, I will spiral down until there's nothing but that four minutes of music in my head. Nine times out of ten it'll be a song described accurately both musically and lyrically as bittersweet; in other words, I tend to fall in love with the acknowledgement that life is more complex than black and white visions of Good vs Bad. There are consequences to all actions; a beautiful new relationship may entail the end of another, or a horrible mistake may reveal a lucky turn of events that would have never happened without it.
A perfect example of the sort of songs I crawl into bed with is the one I used as the basis for my number, "My Love is Destruction." It's called You Destroy Me, performed by an amazing band called VAST, and it is slow, seductive and beautifully wistful. The lyrics are deceivingly simple, just four lines confessing emotion with more weight than a freight train;
You destroy me
When you walk into the room
You destroy me,
And you always will
These lyrics are everything. Why? Because they say so much in so few words. The unspoken desire and grief, happiness and pain between these lines could weave a novel, but they choose not to. They stand there, honest, wanting and vulnerable, leaving questions unanswered, just like they are meant to do.
I debuted that number in July but I started working on it in March. That means at least four or five months where I listened to very, very little besides this one song. I would force myself to take breaks from it every now and then; to rehearse other numbers, or just to break myself out of the spell when I needed to be more mentally present. The act itself is a two song performance, with You Destroy Me crossing faithfully into Hozier's Arsonist's Lullaby, a complementary and beautiful song in its own right.
Here's what happens: the song envelopes my brain, and through it one of the many faces of my personality and outlook appears. At first it's fuzzy, unfocused. But then it begins to take shape, slowly taking its time until it has grown fully into a monstrous image; a little piece of reality shoved through the music's prismatic lens and emerging, metamorphosed, as a fantasy.
I can't let go of the song until the act debuts. The likelihood that the audience understands the overwrought intention behind my number is slim; usually they just see the crazy costume and the boobs and the faraway look that fills my eyes, and leave it happily at that. Burlesque performers rarely get the chance to explain our numbers; but then I can't pretend to know if most people overthink their premises in the same way that I do.
All of my favorite numbers were born this way. To be truthful I'm writing this with tears rolling down my face, fully circling the drain of my current song; it's breathtaking and whimsical and has been possessing me since I stumbled upon it.
I know that its catalystic melody will haunt me until I can finally free it onto a stage. I can't help it; I spiral.