Thursday, June 12, 2008

cry tuff the beta encounter

A friend of mine is about to undergo an emergency root canal. And as she tussles with tooth pain, she also has to hit her deadlines throughout the process. Listening to music in the throes of such physical pain isn't much fun. I recall how I had to review the needling onslaught of Orthrelm's OV a few years ago while dealing with fallout from food poisoning: horrific body aches, nausea, and a blinding feverish headache. Not fun. Needless to say, I have yet to revisit that album, lest I feel such symptoms again. I am curious as to how music gets coupled with acute physical sensations though, embedded into the nerve endings.

When she told me the "good news" about getting a root canal, my entire body shivered. While my own troublesome tooth (and non-dental plan) was from a few years back, that physical misery was conjured so that I re-lived it for a second. Again, I felt that never-ebbing sear of hot pain, white light, the hallucinatory tremble of my skull from those weeks leading up to the drill. And there's an exact song that encapsulates that pain. When I think about root canals, I think about Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love."

It was a few summers ago and I was out at Siren Festival. It was my first time out at Coney Island and I was with then-fellow Pforker Brandon Stosuy. Unable to chew down a Nathan's hot dog, I wandered instead into the decrepit penny arcade out on the boardwalk, the skull pain masked by the din of skee-ball thumps, Street Fighter, and Dance Dance Revolution noises. As "Crazy in Love" burst forth, that horn line (from the Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman") incessantly drilled deep into my head (where it would remain the rest of that summer). My skull reached the threshold: all brass blasts, Jay guest verse, arcade noise, Coney Island teen yammer, sweat, leathery local skin flash, skull nerve throb. At "got me going so crazy right now," everything roared white.

It was at this precise moment that the arcade attendant deployed some sort of industrial strength room deodorizer to cut through the pall of B.O. that hung in the hot room. Stunned and stuck in place, I was hit square in the face with that noxious mist. I can't hear that song without all those bells, whistles, and florid stinks flooding back and overtaking me.

Recently, another friend of mine recounted the first time he ever heard the God of Thunder, Prince Far I, on his face-melting dub reggae classic Cry Tuff the Dub Encounter Volume 3. Reduced to a puddle (bong-abetted, no doubt), he then had to be scooped up and put into a Brooklyn gypsy cab. It was a late November night, but for some reason, his cabbie had all the windows rolled down. To top it off, the cabbie had "Unchained Melody" cranked up. Already a bundle of nerves, the cold and the soaring Righteous sound (arranged for maximum beatitude by Jack Nitzsche, natch) shook my friend down to his spinal column. In simply retelling his tale and thinking about the Righteous Brothers, his arms had broken out anew in goose flesh, still cold at the sound of music.