For My Crimes

Band/Artist: Marissa Nadler
Album: For My Crimes
Best song: “Blue Vapor” or the title track
Worst song: “Said Goodbye to That Car,” but that’s still a good song. This is a great album

I have tried to stay on good terms with every woman I’ve dated seriously. Believe it or not, that is a decently-high number for someone who looks like me, but I worry that even my high school girlfriends think me an asshole. It bothers me.

I had a conversation with a good friend recently about a mutual friend and a religious leader in our community and said good friend asked “Why do you care what each of these people thinks of you?” My answer is related to the above: I care what everyone thinks of me.

I’m not alone in being deeply lonely right now, nor am I alone in being deeply lonely a lot of the time. This is the result of a series of decisions that I’ve made throughout my life and then the pandemic’s isolation period; my fault lies in that my life is a deep well of loneliness because I have not done enough to encourage the relationships in my life, whether romantic or otherwise. I talk to people, literally, for a living. And I’m still deeply lonely. It sucks.

But, everything is pretty much terrible right now. That’s not news to anyone reading this; you have access to the internet, so you know about the raging pandemic that seems to be under control everywhere but my homeland and Brazil. You know about my homeland’s dominance of global finance, therefore the global recession that is caused by my country’s abject failures.

I went into quarantine, just as everyone else did, in the second week of March. The one artist with whom I’ve familiarized with most is Marissa Nadler. I’d vaguely known her stuff for a while, but never dove in headfirst like I did in the awful first few weeks of the quarantine. As the return-to-normal date got further and further away, I reverted back to my moodier teen years (without the sexism, thankfully).

One of the things I started doing – and it really depends on how it is framed – is listening to the bleak singer-songwriter stuff I enjoyed in high school and early college. Elliott Smith. Bedhead. Songs:Ohia. The kinda stuff that signaled to people that I was a “sensitive teen,” which was just a euphemism for “depressed and directionless.” The genre was called “sad bastard” music, I think, by Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, or maybe in the movie based on the book. I don’t remember. I do know that the book’s protagonist was someone who I tired to emulate in my younger years and now see him as the abhorrent person he was written to be.

I worry about this backslide. 

Nadler’s got a “sad bastard” vibe, for sure, and For My Crimes definitely dances on that line. “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” is an all-too-familiar notion that we’ve all had after a breakup with a fellow music lover. “For My Crimes” is everything I’ve ever wanted in both a song and also everything I’ve wanted in a mission statement.

Do we all want our worst acts to be the first line in our obituaries? Of course not. My pathology is that I don’t want people to remember me for my worst acts. Or even remember them at all.

The greatest lyrics, to me, are those that use simple language to convey beautiful emotions that stay with you. I get why people like the literary or the flowers, but I think of Death Cab for Cutie’s “For What Reason,” Elliott Smith’s best work and Chelsea Wolfe’s, well, whole catalog get to the heart of deep emotion better than the florid shit. “I’m not the kind of sick that you can fix” and “This won’t be the last you hear from me/it’s just the start” have the rhythm and access that the more complicated stuff doesn’t do. One of the best single lyrical couplets I can recall is “The only thing that makes me go forward/is forgetting.”

“I’ve done terrible things.
Cold and careless lies.
You can watch behind the glass as I
Pass through serpentine.”

The pre-chorus sets up Nadler’s whisper-soft chorus, beautiful in its simplicity and universal in its appeal to anyone.

“Please don’t remember me
Please don’t remember me
Please don’t remember me for my crimes.”

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

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