I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about car wrecks lately (or “accidents,” if you want to sugarcoat things), mainly because I was in one yesterday. It’s difficult to convey the unbridled carnage of a minor fender-bender into mere words, so I’ve called upon three pieces of music to represent the critical stages of the modern car wreck: Ignorance, Realization, and Aftermath. Feel free to use this soundtrack for your own inevitable car wreck experiences in the future.
Interpol – "Untitled"
I’ve always loved the brilliant opener to 2002’s Turn On the Bright Lights, but now I know why: the song becomes an entirely different beast when paired with the moments leading up to a traumatic nudge from another vehicle. Simultaneously optimistic and foreboding, the song is an ode to the driver’s foolhardy confidence that is torn apart at the moment of impact. It’s not difficult to imagine Paul Banks taking on the persona of the incipient crash in his lyrics: “Surprise sometime / I’ll come around”. Don’t get confused – we’re talking about literal car wrecks here, not the figurative one that is Interpol’s late-decade output.
John Zorn – "Speedball"
Admittedly, the “realization” moment in a car wreck only lasts between 0.5-2.5 seconds (according to a study I just performed in the same amount of time). With “Speedball”, John Zorn’s avant-jazz group Naked City has kindly extended this period of quiet introspection/pants-wetting fear to a startling 43 seconds. The ominous organ chords of the first 12 seconds take us into the headspace of the driver as any hope of avoidance evaporates before his eyes. From there, the song takes off into a blistering examination of what Detroit steel grinding against Japanese steel truly sounds like, replete with clanging cymbals, manic saxophone, and demon tongues. As an aside, I’ve also found this one to be a big hit at parties; be sure to have this paragraph handy for inquisitive and open-minded guests.
Enya – "Only Time"
Did you seriously think I was going to pick something else?