I bought On Fire by the band Galaxie 500 years ago. I don’t know what prompted me to get it; perhaps I read a review of it somewhere.
I bought it sometime around 1990, a period of a lot of musical experimentation for me. And from the moment I first put it in the CD player…I wasn’t impressed. Meh, I thought. Bland.
Several times when I went through the CD collection I pulled this out as a disk that could be culled, but I always put it back. “I haven’t really listened to that enough,” I thought. “I think I remember liking a couple of tracks on it.” For some reason or another, it was always spared in the purge.
And I’d pop it in from time to time, and gradually, far too gradually, it would work its magic. The subtlety of it finally got through my thick head. I didn’t even notice it at the time I listened, I would only really notice later on another CD sellback spree, when On Fire would once again be spared due to a vague notion in my head.
What I didn’t realize about the feeling I had toward the album would become clear later on. It’s the same feeling I get looking at certain paintings or sculptures. Or reading some poems. Or even looking at some mathematical proofs. It’s the feeling that you’re not sure what this is, you don’t understand it, you don’t know if you even like it, but you know, in your heart, that you’re next to a work of genius. It’s not speaking to you, your soul is responding to it on another level.
My stubborn soul eventually opened up and now I fully appreciate this album. I don’t know if I got to the correct place in my life, or had listened to the correct prerequisite music to appreciate it, or what, but I now love this album and can’t imagine not liking it. Everything on it grabs me.
Have you ever had a song that produced undeniable feelings of nostalgia, loss, hope, or similar emotions, even though there was nothing actually in your life that connected to the song? Somehow it evoked feelings, though there was no reason for it to do so? Every single song on this album does that for me. Every time I listen to it, I’m amazed by it.
I haven’t bought any other Galaxie 500 albums, interestingly. I don’t know why. In truth, I’m kind of afraid to.
I don’t expect anyone else to share this feeling about this particular album, but surely there’s one like this that you know of. One that gradually, subtly, revealed its artistry to you.