The nearly forgotten song “Shaded Pain” on the 1987 LSU (a.k.a. Lifesavers Underground) album of the same name includes the lines, “We throw off all the shackles, then we wear the chains, shaded pain. We find out who we are, then we lose our names, shaded pain.”
When I was a teenager listening to this song on cassette, I was moved to tears many times. It’s strange hearing it now. I can’t separate from the nostalgia to hear it with objective ears, and suspect that it probably wasn’t the work of genius that it seemed to be as I stared out of a backseat window all those years ago. It isn’t available on streaming services, just obsolete formats like CD and vinyl. The sentiment, that people (particularly Christians) are shamed into hiding their pain, is still carries a lot of weight. And yet, since the song came out in the 80’s the opposite trend– oversharing– seems to be growing, too.
There was a tragedy today. I, like many people feel a need to talk about it on social media. I feel like I need to commemorate it, to stain the otherwise banal stream of pleasantness in my feed to match the outside world. I’m not sure what it accomplishes or if I even have the right to do it.
I was off work today and listened to the audiobook forms of James Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. The first of these was a more dedicated listen, with a physical copy on hand to underline and dog ear especially well-written passages. Both were disconcerting, but at a remove- one from the past and the other from some uncertain future. After finishing the second of these I checked the news out of habit and learned of the latest tragedy. The chaos so carefully sequestered into my books had leaked into the present after all.
The Wikipedia entries for The Devil Finds Work is a fraction of the length of the one for Annihilation (links above). There is no question that James Baldwin’s work is exponentially more important, but it, like Shaded Pain, suffers from belonging to a pre-internet era. There really is no history in the Internet, just a continuous present that gets preserved. Voluminous Wikipedia entries about Shakespeare’s plays only attest to the present focus on their worth, not what they actually meant at the time of their writing.
I don’t know the meaning of this, other than the desire to write what I know. A tragedy has happened today. One in a series, soon to be displaced by the next. I feels wrong to say nothing, but also wrong to talk about what I don’t know. So I’ll write about what I know and hope it is enough. On Amazon used copies of Shaded Pain are selling for $2 on CD and $200 on vinyl, so maybe somehow it’s worth a lot and not that much at the same time.