Death. It hangs out patiently, or not so, beside us. I’ve come close to it three times. When I was 6, I got scarlet fever and chicken pox at the same time. My fever was so high that my mom (who was a nurse) and dad rushed me to the emergency room, where my dad refused to let any staff put me in an ice bath. To this day he says that’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done, frightening his scared kid even more — plunging her into the ice bath — to save her life.
After the ice bath, they put me in a hospital room by myself. They gave me penicillin, which I’m allergic to. So I had hives on top of everything else. Teams of doctors (with interns I guess) would come into the room. I was 6 but tiny and looked about 4, so they would talk in front of me about my slim chances of survival. My mom brought me lots of presents (this was very suspicious) and my evil older brother called and said he loved me. I knew I was going to die.
I remember distinctly one night in the dark hospital room pressing the call button. A very sweet nurse came in and talked me through my fears and gave me a popsicle. To this day I am touched by the kindness of people like this. If you think you don’t affect others with small deeds, it’s not true.
Anyway, one day I felt better. I remember jumping up and down on the hospital bed with my stuffed rabbit singing “I’m gon-na live, I’m gon-na live!”. I was changed forever.
More recently, in the past 12 years I’ve had 2 horrible car accidents. In one I hit a semi-truck head on in my tiny Honda hatchback (a Freightliner, I will never forget the logo or the squeak of its brakes) in the other a 20-year old kid in an SUV (I despise huge vehicles, they are so dangerous to other cars, and destructive to the environment, don’t get me started) hit me from behind, destroying my beat-up convertible and my life for about 2 years.
Every moment of my life I feel death with me. It is a very good thing. (I know this sounds weird, but it’s true.) It informs every moment. Inspires me to take chances and live fully. It scares me into being brave. I don’t waste time. I don’t have people close to me that I can’t trust. And I don’t truck with indirectness.
Once in a while there comes an album that gives me the feeling that I need. That rare fleeting taste of celebration and satisfaction. Cut Copy‘s 2008 album In Ghost Colours is that album for me this summer. It’s everything I want in a summer record: it’s personal, individual, honest, emotional, upbeat and danceable. And it has these explosive rhythm hits that are the audio equivalent of the 4th of July. No song makes me happier right now that this song “Lights and Music”:
So this Friday at midnight, in the 4th hour of rockin (and enjoying with everything I’ve got) my show Nite Life (which starts at 9pm) I’ll play you this band from Melbourne, Australia. Tell my little story. And this Thursday at 3pm the first of my new KEXP Documentaries series “Death, Drugs and Rock n Roll” airs. Inspirational stories about death and rock n roll. Go figure.