The Kills-Black Balloon.

17 09 2011

I’m not one for enjoying songs that are about sunshine, rainbows and love. It isn’t real. I like songs that are dark, creepy, frightening, fragile and thought-provoking. I like songs where you can really feel what the singer is going through. If the song oozes desperation, I’ll probably fall in love with it. However, just because I like songs like this doesn’t make me a morbid bugger- most like to think I am, but they’re wankers.

There’s a song by The Kills on every album that always breaks my heart. Keep On Your Mean side has Gypsy Death & You, No Wow has Rodeo Town and Blood Pressures has The Last Goodbye.

Midnight Boom has Black Balloon. I know that whatever I say about this song doesn’t do it justice, but that doesn’t stop me. Well, sometimes it does. Not today.

Lyrically and musically, it is painful. In a good way, not in a “this is so bad make this shit here stop” kind of way. Alison’s voice on Black Balloon is so vulnerable, the way she sings “Let the weather have its way with you” makes you feel for her. That whatever or whoever this is about, you really connect with her. It’s a simple song but with such wonderful imagery in the lyrics.

“Elevator straight into my skull. An escalator rises as it falls.”  Personally, I feel that the elevator is this feeling she cannot shake, and it constantly gets to her. The escalator is a symbol for the highs and the lows. As soon as you feel good, some fuckwit has to come along and drag you back down. Maybe that isn’t the case, but it’s what I get from that line.

“You can hold on, but I wouldn’t waste your time.” It’s so true isn’t it? You hold on for something or someone, and in the end it’s actually a waste if your time. It just turns out to be so awfully pointless. I love the honesty and disappointment in this line. We’ve all felt this way, and you get to a point where you know waiting around is just a waste, there’s no point- so why bother? My advice? Don’t bother; you’ll get further if you don’t.

“….on the edge of a dream that you had. Has anybody told you it’s not coming true?” Again, the honesty and disappointment here is just beyond. You can dream all you want to, but they will not come true. You’re taught to dream as a kid, but when you hit adulthood it just goes to shit. Maybe if you hold onto the dreams a little bit, it’ll get you through the day. I wouldn’t bother though.

Then comes the giving up, “Let the weather have its way with you.” Sometimes, whatever it is or who it is that you were holding out for, in the end, you just have to let it go- hand it over to fate, so fate can have its way with it. One of the best feelings a person can experience is the euphoria of letting something go. Go on, get a balloon- and watch it go away. Seeing something just float away on its own is such a grand feeling. When you let a person/emotion go, when you get past the feeling awful stage- you reach this part where nothing matters because you are free. You’re a person again who isn’t being held down. I know a lot of people who have trouble walking away from something or letting go, I don’t understand why. Or maybe I’m a terrible person because I can leave things behind without feeling bad? I have no idea; I don’t feel bad for it. Everyone is different. This is why Black Balloon means so much to me.

When I bought Midnight Boom, I had heard it before its proper release, so I just played Black Balloon over and over. It is a sad, dark song but if you dig deeper you can see it’s got this sense of freedom to it. What I love about The Kills is how fearless their music is. They can sing songs that are about being rock bottom or just bring frustrated, they are not afraid to indulge in what many regard as ugly emotions. They have this real, raw feel to their music which makes them so approachable and easy to relate to.

Black Balloon live is emotional, you cannot take your eyes off Alison as she stands there singing this song. I used to think that this was their most emotional song, but The Last Goodbye has taken over from that. I imagine The Last Goodbye live will just cause a wave of emotions to take over, not that I mind. Its how a gig should be.

Black Balloon has a bluesy feel to it mixed with a hint of the Velvet Underground, and also the despair of a Townes Van Zandt song. Everything I love in one.

I know I haven’t done the song justice with my words, if that was the case- I’d be paid to write like this. That won’t ever happen; instead I’ll just kill time and keep my brain busy by doing this. The Kills have taught me a lot, you don’t need to know- but its songs such as Black Balloon that keeps this tired heart going.


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