Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Any Colour You Like"-- a rainbow across the snow

Currently we're digging out from the 8th biggest snowstorm in Philadelphia since 1884, so I'll dig out this frozen blog for a winter snowstorm flashback:

Early '94[?] we had a cluster of big storms in Central New Jersey causing icy roads and well over a foot of snow. School was cancelled for days on end and this triggered my first notable bout of depression. I felt incredibly lonely, and isolated from my few friends by undriveable hills and highways in the sprawl. My school was regional and Catholic, pulling students from a radius of 30, 40 miles. We were too young to drive ourselves and too far away from one another to walk. There were no "downtowns" to congregate in, only shopping malls and subdivisions. And for safety's sake, my parents were not going to help me get anywhere in this freeze. So I stayed home, alone.

And concurrently there was all my typical teenage upheaval and rumbling punkishness about to burst forth from inside. I felt nauseous, motion sick. Feeling I had no one to reach out to, my snowed-in "cry for help" was to wear the same outfit for a week (including a grey and white 1960s ski sweater handed down from my dad) and play Pink Floyd's "Any Colour You Like" on endless repeat at loud volumes on my bedroom boom box.

I'd recently been introduced to Dark Side of the Moon via the 20th anniversary edition, purchased from CD World at the Menlo Park Mall. Early on, the bargain bin Rock Giants by Peter Herring- already woefully out-of-date by the early 90s, guided my disc and cassette purchases. For the Floyd-curious the book recommended Dark Side and also Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which I'd also soon purchase to hear a seemingly different but equally great band. Already psyched by the wordless passages of the Grateful Dead, I naturally gravitated towards the Dark Side instrumental. "Any Colour You Like" seemed to capture my loneliness even better than any of the album's worded songs could. The layers of synths sounded to me like endless snow fields, and the FX'ed guitar sounded like a crying human voice. So I lay on my bed with the the song going over and over again and let my head spin:

No one in my small family noticed this indecipherable cry. "Any Colour You Like" truly sounded great to me, but by the 40th time through it began to feel masochistic. Still I pressed on, because no other song sounded right to me, I didn't know what else to do, and there was nowhere else to go. I don't know what I would've done if someone had actually knocked on my door and asked if I were okay. I also could've just told my parents that I felt like crap. They were reasonable people willing to listen. But I was a teenager, we needed drama and mystery to survive.

Eventually, the temperature outside warmed, road conditions improved, and I bucked up, turned the stereo off, and went back to school. A few years ago, I asked my mom about the incident and she had no memory of a week when one track could be heard repeating endlessly through my bedroom door. Now listening back to this tune, even when I'm feeling good, I'm tempted to hit "repeat" 5 or 10 times to briefly fall back into that awfully turbulent teenage state of mind, which I can now only visit through the warm prism of nostalgia.

No comments: