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Atmosphere, Beach House, Kendrick Lamar: A Coincidental Trilogy of Life in Song

I recently had that amazing experience of discovery. After years of waiting, then anger, resignation, acceptance, and finally forgetting all about it in the first place, I finally found the song I was looking for: Summer Song by Atmosphere.

All credit goes to /u/nchantala on reddit. Here was my question:

As you can see, I posted it in July 2021. I had completely forgotten about that question and the song until I got that notification earlier today. That's why I love the internet - these little moments of kind surprises - a gift from an anonymous stranger. I've been playing the song since then, and it really took me back. I thought about posting a saying of some of the lyrics, but when you really start to look at them closely, you realize the entire song is from the perspective of a scorned man feeling entitled to the love of another and probably not the best lyrics to emphasize without context. With that in mind, I thought to myself 'hey, I haven't just written an article for a while', so now I'm doing just that. I hope you enjoy an exploration of these three songs and the thread they've woven through my life:

Summer Song by Atmosphere

The song that made this article happen. 2017: my first semester of college across the country from my friends and family; the oft backdrop for a great coming of age story but one that wasn't ready to develop yet. Instead I isolated myself in my room, smoked weed I bought off Silk Road with Bitcoin I got from those free faucets they used to have, cried a lot, played TagPro too much, didn't attend class nearly enough, and just mostly felt miserable. This was one of my anthems during that time. The droning tones in the background along with this separated tone acting as a thin veneer to a hidden well of sadness and anger really resonated with me. It was something familiar I could put on that wouldn't try to change me but just let me fester in that feeling of trying to detach from the world and fade away into nothingness. At the time, I never really paid much attention to the actual story being told in the lyrics; I would just hold onto the sound of individual lines or words, like "They're all insane; they all know my name.", or "There's no way she'll allow you to live." or "Nothing comes close - scream of the smile and Choke, Boy, Choke" or "What's the time? It's almost time for her to go to work" or "POPS a thousand tiny blood CLOTS." It's really the voice of Slug and his emphasis and rhythm that just draws you in. Imagine my shock when I actually started listening to the lyrics and I realized it describes the thoughts of a person stalking a woman he is obsessed with and expressions of his anger at a situation that can never be. A particular verse captures this sadness and anger hauntingly, eloquently:

And if she only knew, how long I've waited for her
How her smiles enough to make my winter warmer
If she knew the way she walks could take away my storm
She'd probably call the cops and get a restraining order
As much as I hate myself, I hate you more
But I still smile when you come through that door
And as much as I hate my life, I hate yours too

Just can't seem to teach myself to ignore you

Although I wasn't stalking women or even had a past lover to feel scorned by yet, I feel like I could relate to the underlying emotions that this song, its beat, and its musical quality evokes. A sense of feeling stuck in your obsessions and destructive tendencies in a way where you can only hope to pass through life unnoticed while your self-loathing is constant and probably did spill over to hatred of the world at points. It does feel good to be out of that mindset and better able to appreciate the uniqueness, absurdity, and fun of life, along with a better recognition of habits that help me be happier and ones that can hinder that. Which takes me to the next song.

Space Song by Beach House

Okay, you might have noticed that my Reddit post actually included Silver Soul by Beach House (since that's the one that actually was sampled by Kendrick Lamar for the third song), but I feel like this song was a more poignant marker for a period in my life. This came at a moment when I had probably just undergone the most rapid amount of personal growth in my life up until that point: I'm back in college after getting C's my first semester and taking a voluntary leave of absence for the Spring semester and Summer. I go in with a roommate so it's logistically more difficult to isolate myself, I start therapy, get on Zoloft for anxiety and depression, take a shit-ton of acid, and have an awakening - this really isn't that serious. I'm doing fine in college; everyone here really just wants you to succeed and to help and love. Apparently you can just ask for extensions on things and communicate with professors like they're human beings. Apparently I am capable of being desirable and kissing and having relationships with women and apparently I'm kinda hot, too. College is actually pretty amazing and life is actually pretty cool. Well, with living comes new experiences and some of those are sitting in a room smoking weed with some people like which you've never interacted with before. They're artists; they've lived in France; they travel; they smoke; they wear turtle necks. And, they play Beach House. And this song comes on and you know you really should be staring out of a train window crying into your reflection on a dark stormy day and then you laugh along with everyone and have some red wine and feel what it's like to be social and uncomfortable and like it.

Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar

And here is the final song in this serendipitous trilogy of my early twenties. While I'm not sure I'd place monetary success as the final destination of any life story, I didn't pick these songs for this purpose - they all just sounded alike, so I'm rolling with it. That being said, I definitely strolled around Midtown feeling like a pimp listening to this after getting my first 5-figure bonus. As a white-passing consultant living in Manhattan from a privileged, stable upbringing in the suburbs, I'm probably not fully appreciating most of the poetic depictions in the song, but it is a certified banger. Plus I also had dreams of living life like rappers do and that's just how I feel. Now. Now.

Published: Friday, May 26, 2023

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