Somehow this blog has become a music review with interspersed fits of pique about other things; but that's okay, I've always said I could live without my vision, but not without my hearing because I can't bear the thought of a life with no more music.
And you know, sometimes a piece of music comes along that makes you want to gasp, and cry and hug the person you love, and laugh for the sheer beauty of it all at the same time. It's not very often that this happens, and I am sure that with the abundance of music these days I miss some of the best moments. Just about every artist I have loved has had flashes of this, but right now I am captivated by an example I can't let go of.
That example comes on a particularly tasty iTunes exclusive session that I am particularly glad Placebo took the time to record. It is four songs, and the low point is a cover of Sinead O'Connor's Jackie, which is one of the few songs I do like by Sinead, and one of the few songs I don't like by Placebo. There's an excellent piano version of Meds, that is even darker and sweeter and sadder than the album version, and there is a light guitar version of Song to Say Goodbye that makes the insults sound lighthearted.
The true high point, though, the song that has it's teeth in me and won't let go, is Because I Want You. This song sounds less like rage and more like ironic self-blame than either the album version or the Live at la Cigale version. For all the irony, though, there is real sadness and honesty here, real reflection on the things done wrong in the name of love. This song changes the ambiguous to(o) in the line "Because I want you too" from "to" to "too". All of a sudden the message has gone from being about the first person to being about the second person; from an accusation to an apology the singer believes might be too late, but hopes will give him the one last chance that he needs to make it work (and this time, he will).
This is an emotional maturity that can only come from someone who has "stared into the void, and found it tempting", though it is surprising maturity from someone who once claimed to have left "a trail of blood and spunk across Europe" (hell, with that lifestyle, it's amazing Brian lived this long. Thanks, Levi).
Placebo have been with me through my masters (a.k.a. the masters fiasco), illness, depression, rage, surgery, getting well, and falling in love, and they always had a song for me. This song, though, is a song for all of that and more. It's the sadness of realising you've screwed up and might not be able to fix it, but the happiness of knowing you love someone more than your addictions. It's the depression of having done it all again, but without the rage you would expect, and while it is honest, it is not raw... Brian is far from angelic, and his voice is challenging most of the time, yet this piece is carried on his vocal, and he sounds like a crying angel.