A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my mother about Tegan and Sara. Because of my obsession with all things Quin related, she knows the music well, as it gets played in the house at least once a day. And so when I described Tegan and Sara’s music as ‘dark and twisty’ (to use a phrase borrowed from Meredith Grey) she immediately questioned this. I’m not surprised quite frankly, because to the casual observer those catchy pop hooks leave the impression that everything is bright and sunny, but beneath the surface lies an emotional fragility, particularly in Tegan’s songwriting that cuts to the core of my soul.
Take yesterday for example. I decided to put my Best of T&S Mix on my IPOD while I made the quick trip to uni to pick up some books. A round trip to the uni perfectly fits the confines of this 17 song, 59 minute mix, which starts as I close my garage door and concludes when it reopens. Emotionally I have been fine of late, things have sorted themselves out, but yesterday I put this mix of songs on, and it was like I had been put through an emotional washing machine.
The trip to the uni went along fine, I take the journey singing at the top of my lungs to I Hear Noises, Hop a Plane, On Directing, Take Me Anywhere, The Con, Red Belt, Walking With a Ghost, Northshore, Divided, and Someday. The whole time as I drove down the footpath I’m aware that people were looking at me, as they could probably hear both my terrible singing and the backing track through my headphones, as I had the music up at maximum volume. I didn’t care, I really and truly didn’t. I passed school kids trying to look cool on skateboards (and failing), people jogging or taking their dogs for a walk, and a father trying to teach their daughter how to ride a bike. Each gave me quizzical looks as I glided by. The skater kids laughed at me and probably thought I was trying to look what they considered to be cool. I know I’m anything but. I made way to the top of the uni’s Innovation Centre just as the incredibly awesome bit of Northshore comes in at 1:42 where Sara’s backing vocals start, during what can only be described as an aural orgasm. Two semi professional guys in a suit and tie were having their smoke break, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. In a rush of energy there I was harmonising with Sara as she sang ‘Something so sick about this, I am so addicted’ I knew I looked like a wanker, but harmonising with Sara, trumps my own self consciousness every single time. That half an hour trip was the happiest I had been in 6 weeks.
On the way back I reached the mid point of my journey. I was crossing the bridge on Stringybark Road and The Cure comes on. Of course I’ve paid attention to the lyrics before, but suddenly I reach a moment of complete clarity, and relate it to an awkward trip down memory lane a fortnight ago. ‘All I said to you, all I did for you, seems silly to me now’ Suddenly a light bulb flashes. I get it. Tegan is talking about that. If only I had said that a fortnight ago. Then Nineteen envelops me, possibly the most emotionally arresting song to ever exist. Take every teen drama, every failed romance, multiply it by 100 and you have Nineteen. So there I am crossing an intersection singing ‘I was Nineteeeeeen callllll meeeeeee’ tears flowing down my cheeks, just swept up in the emotion of it all. I'm not only thinking about those moments which Tegan describes and how they pertain to me, but also what they represent. I am not young and naive anymore. It’s not enough just to feel the pangs of love as the percussion filled crescendo towers over me. That time is over. But then Dark Come Soon starts and as I’m immersed in the lyrics, another line hits me right between the eyes: “So what, I lie? I lie to me too.’ And then all these other layers open up…. The garage door opens up and I’m home.
Sure the BFF and I say that Tegan is the hottest woman on two legs, and she is undoubtedly so. But I connect with Tegan particularly in an emotional way, not just through fan boy adulation, but through experience. I regard myself as emotionally fucked up in all the worst ways, unable to communicate my feelings properly unless shielded in a protective cocoon. But you know what? Tegan is emotionally fucked up too, and that comes through in almost all of her songs. She is strong enough to communicate that to the rest of the world.
I wish I was that brave, and strong, and fearless. That is why I love her