Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Certain Songs #996: Low – “When I Go Deaf” | Medialoper

Album: The Great Destroyer
Year: 2005

But it was this song that made me a fan.

As somebody who’s been told that “the music’s too loud” for over four decades (and now has to watch TV with the closed captions on), “When I Go Deaf” resonates with me on multiple levels. For one thing: it’s almost unutterably gorgeous. Until it isn’t. And even then, it really is.

At first, it’s just an acoustic guitar. No drums. No bass. Just Alan Sparhawk, staring down the future.

When I go deaf
I won’t even mind
Yeah, I’ll be all right
I’ll be just fine

Then he’s joined by Mimi Parker, who is already probably having what she’s saying so he can hear it, and enduring the TV too loud and the radio too loud and especially the music too loud, but at the same time sweetly supportive.

I’ll stay out all night
Looking at the sky
I’ll still have my sight
Yeah, I’ll still have my eyes

The insidious thing about “When I Go Deaf” is that the tone, even here in the quiet parts, is almost celebratory. For one thing, they’re treating it as a certainty — the song isn’t called “If I Go Deaf” — and also as a blessing and a relief.

And we will make love
We won’t have to fight
We won’t have to speak
And we won’t have to lie

And I’ll stop writing songs
Stop scratching out lines
I won’t have to fake
And it won’t have to rhyme

Then of course, he goes deaf, and the world explodes into an beautiful orgy of terrible noise. Feedback and crashes and bombs bursting in air and somehow poking their way through the billows of sound, Sparkhawk and Parker singing anthemically:

When I go deaf
When I go deaf
When I go deaf
When I go deaf

It’s so lovely. It’s so scary. When I go deaf, I hope that I can be as brave about it as they are in “When I Go Deaf.”

“When I Go Deaf”

“When I Go Deaf” performed live

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