Manic Street Preachers, "Enola/Alone"

Let's say there is a certain pressure in thinking about how we approach culture that denies the existence of phases: if we work to develop taste, the things we like we should always like, and if we shift away from them, it should be for reasons we can identify. This is not always compatible with the emotional resonance of certain things, nor with the accumulation of experience over time, nor with vita brevis longa ars. The reality is that a lot of intense moments of infatuation are not built to last, but we are the people least prepared to see it in ourselves when it happens. I've written elsewhere about the gradual--sometimes stark--move away from T.S. Eliot, Dante, Graham Greene, and others, and it's safe to say that 2004 me would not understand 2014 me's interest in Foucault, critical theory, and 900-page Spanish-language novels.

Music, which provokes the most intense of reactions, tends to be the strangest in retrospect. Pavement were once indisputably my favorite band, and now I rarely listen to them; Sugar had a similar moment; though I've listened to Kanye constantly, what that entails has changed a lot; I once went through several years without listening to Exile on Main Street, an album I'd still consider one of my favorites. What I have begun to conclude is that to last, affection for a particular song, artist, or album has to be built on a sustainable emotional and mental level, and this means it has to survive at the lowest, most technical levels of interest, not the highs of fandom.

There was a time when I had a very strong reaction to this song and its lyrics, and their place within Everything Must Go. But that time was when I was 16. Now, I feel nothing in particular for it because relationship drama no longer does much for me in song lyrics. Instead, I hear that production, the intensity, the way the chord sequence follows that very Britpop thing of one- or two-note changes, the way the outtro sets the rest of the song off by varying rhythm and intensity. It no longer needs to speak to my life; it only needs to be a good song. That's enough.

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