On For Emma Forever Ago

by jenniferbalboa

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[eighth life-in-music post]

“You’re too happy for your own good.” – evildex. August 13, 2010. San Miguel Avenue. 11 p.m.

{here, he sings something about being marooned}

For Emma Forever Ago was passed on to me by a guy who refers to himself as bleepster in some areas of this cold wide web. He is from Cebu. He gave me the record when he went to Manila to watch the last Eraserheads concert, March of last year. He was nice enough to let me tag along with his company of childhood, long-time friends who were also there that night, watching the concert. That was the first and last time I saw him.

And bleepster is the childhood friend of a friend I have yet to tell evildex much about. A friend who used to refer to himself in some areas of this cold wide web as mangjose. Can’t afford to tell evildex much yet. Actually, there may not really be much to tell. Except that despite my being difficult, my friend treated me good. While evildex was treated differently by some difficult ghosts.

It’s quite hard, because I do not want to fall out of evildex’s good graces. After all, despite him calling himself evil in some areas of this cold wide web, he is good. And whoever wants to lose something good?

{he sings “fit it all, fit it in the doldrums, so the story goes”}

And that’s the track I love most in this record where I love everything – from what seems to be sounds of footsteps, to sticks sounding like they’re hitting tabletops and armrests, to maybe twigs snapping from footsteps. Not entirely impossible since Bon Iver recorded the album in an improvised studio in the middle of a forest.

It has a version I can imagine as a possible wedding march, if my husband would allow it. {Here.} Glorious! Sounds like he recorded that one inside a cathedral.

For Emma Forever Ago proves to me that it still is worth digging your solitary self into the wilderness these days, to breed a thing of beauty. Just when I have been convinced that constant contact with humanity is paramount in art and life, I hear this guy half-murmuring, half-moaning “sold my red horse for a venture home, to vanish on the bow”. It was worth it, I guess. And by the time he’s stepped out of his forest, he’s got ten raw, naked, honest ones that every ailing heart could heal to.

{“…I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my…”}

I made a copy of the record for evildex Friday night. Last night, in the home of our tai chi mastah which rests in a garden inside a forest behind one of the giant billboards along EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, I handed evildex the copy. Mastah had Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead playing in the background. I think I happened to have given evildex the copy sometime after that scene where one of the girls was ravaged by the woods.

{now he’s singing “what might have been lost” and “don’t bother me” and “someday my pain”}

I remember reading how Bon Iver said that Northern Exposure was quite influential in the composition of For Emma Forever Ago. True enough, I did imagine Cicely-like atmospherics when I first heard it. And Bon Iver more than half the time sounds like he’s bearing and managing something that gives the chills. He made the record after a break-up, by the way.

{“Narrator:
(So apropos:
Saw death on a sunny snow)
Him:
“For every life…”
Her:
“Forego the parable.”
Him:
“Seek the light.”
Her:
“…My knees are cold.”
(Running home, running home, running home, running home…)…”}

I will gladly share this record to anyone who needs some warmth while managing the chills. Sometimes, that’s all you can do, much as you want to do more. Because sometimes, the chills can only leave enough room for a few songs. I know.

I wonder what the evil one would see while listening to it. Envisioning it should not be hard for someone who’s known or who’s carrying the chills. The isolated cabin, breathing music from its every opening. A haven in the outskirts of a remote, forgotten town. A secret town. Where, maybe, some girl behind the counter is manning the little store where the hermit buys his supplies from time to time. How she looks forward to his every visit. Her secret little cheers. But he looks down, weighed down by the chills, hurrying to get back to his cabin of songs.

{“This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me”}

She must have her songs, too. And actually, she may not be happy all the time (at least maybe not just yet). But she is good.

[40/52]

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