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Lyrics and Life

By Caitlin Ward

02/14/2018

Love is Noise

The Verve

Will those feet in modern times
Walk on soles that are made in China?
Through the bright prosaic malls
And the corridors that go on and on and on

Are we blind? Can we see?
We are one, incomplete
Are we blind? In the city
Waiting for lightning to be saved, yeah

CHORUS

‘Cause love is noise, love is pain
Love is these blues that I’m singing again
Love is noise, love is pain
Love is these blues that I’m singing
Again, again, again, again, again

Will those feet in modern times
Understand this world’s affliction?
Recognize the righteous anger?
Understand this world’s addiction?

I was blind, couldn’t see
What was here in me
I was blind — insecure
Felt like the road was way too long, yeah

CHORUS (x2)

All those feet in modern times
Walk on soles made in China
Will those feet in modern times
See the bright prosaic malls
Will those feet in modern times
Recognize the heavy burden
Will those feet in modern times
Pardon me for my sins?
Love is noise

In a peculiar turn of events, two weeks ago I managed to drop my iPod and my phone into a toilet. Luckily, the toilet bowl happened to be empty of anything but water at the time. So it could have been worse. I fished them both out, turned them off immediately, and nestled them into bags of rice in the hopes that they might dry out and become usable again.

I was told this was a somewhat futile hope. The phone would turn on, but the screen would not work. When I went to SaskTel to see if anything could be done about this, I was told my phone was past saving. I’ve been due for an upgrade for about six months, so it didn’t cost me anything but a certain amount of inconvenience, as well as worry I’d lost pictures I wanted to keep and phone numbers I might like to call. In the process of trying to rescue these things from the phone, though, I learned it was not past saving at all. Though a bit water-damaged on one part of the screen, eventually the whole thing turned on again, and is fine. Now I have two phones, and I’m devastated to know that a crown corporation lied to me.

Well, more likely, they were mistaken. Phones generally don’t recover from that sort of accident, so it was reasonable to assume this one wouldn’t, either. And as one person noted when I expressed frustration: “yes, but do you really want a toilet phone?” Perhaps not. But it is certainly frustrating, as now I have two working phones, and no working iPod.

The result of this is that my life has been largely devoid of music on the go, which is an unusual circumstance for me. Instead, I’ve been listening to podcasts, which has lent a somewhat different air to things. I listen to news and hear about people’s lives instead of music.

The news is strange. I’ve been listening to British news because it seems slightly less dire than North American news in a lot of ways. That also feels rather dire. Brexit is going strangely, it seems, and however one might feel about it, it’s going to be a rough transition. I’ve also been trying to listen to Spanish news, but I don’t understand half of it, and the other half sounds pretty distressing, as well. Perhaps I should go back to North American news, but then I might be confronted with a leader of one country or the other saying something divisive, uninformed, or stupid, or some combination of all three.

No wonder I usually listen to music. It’s too easy to get riled up about things, otherwise. Alas, though, I cannot. I lost my iPod to the toilet.

In the grand scheme of things, my iPod meeting a watery grave and my doubled phone resource are hardly the worst things that could have happened. In fact, there are several worse things that have happened in these past two weeks. But this is the thing: there’s a reason I hadn’t upgraded my phone. My phone was fine. The battery didn’t work so well as it once did, but that’s a relatively small problem and I could have gotten another battery if it came to it.

It’s not just a question of consumerism, or waste, or having no idea what to do with two phones. Part of it is that I know that both my phone and iPod have rare minerals only available in certain parts of the world that are under siege. Just about every smart phone and iPod has these minerals, and their purchase funds the type of violence you and I will likely never encounter. Parts for each are manufactured all over the world and then assembled. In the case of Apple products, they’re mostly manufactured in China. With other smart phones, it varies from model to model and brand to brand. I wonder how many miles were under this phone, how many hands it passed through, and how bruised those hands were, before it reached mine.

When I get to that point, I wonder if it’s worth it to be much distressed about stupid or nasty or shortsighted things politicians say. I don’t mean that in a particularly cynical way — I’m not thinking everything is terrible so there’s no point in caring anymore. What I mean is that layers of injustice are so embedded in our lives and our ways of living that it’s hard to pin the blame on one or two powerful men, and simply be angry at them.

I listened to those things on my redundant second phone full of blood minerals, in a car that I wouldn’t really need if oil and car companies hadn’t decimated public transportation in the 20th century to create a need that hadn’t previously existed. No doubt my phone was listening to my sarcastic comments at the news so that Facebook or Microsoft or whomever else can figure out how to use them to sell me something.

Whether intentionally or not, the theatre of politics often seems like a superficial sleight of hand when these systems run so deep, and are so firmly entrenched, that it not only seems impossible to pull away from them, but often futile to try. Removing oneself does little more than assuaging one’s personal culpability. Systems need to change, and that’s a much, much bigger fight.

The upshot of this is that really, I have no idea if I’m going to buy a new iPod. I can’t tell if it’ll make things better or worse.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings