Guest post by Lyndsey Knecht.
It was October of a year I barely floated through, on the kindness of other people. I had just taken a job at an experimental captioning center where they used voice recognition technology Stephen Hawking would approve of. It also required me to leaveDentonno later than 3 a.m. each day.
The first morning of that schedule, I crept down the stairs of my friends’ hundred-year-old house to find a white envelope tucked under my windshield wiper. It wasn’t a ticket, or even a pissed-off note asking me to park my Explorer further away from the elegant house where I stayed. It was a mix CD.
A spaceship drawn in fine-tipped sharpie on the disc identified the gifter. I smiled at the distance of everyone sleeping, even my sly friend, and headed down 35-E into the dark with the unnamed songs.
The third track on the CDR was a song by the Walkmen, “We’ve Been Had.” I’d heard it before, driving through downtown Dallasinto Oak Cliff with another of my favorite people. We let the twinkling intro fade in more than a few times, filling up on the skyline and the smirking drama of the song. Hamilton Leithauser swears off aesthetic expectations while dressing down his Sinatra croon with sparse guitar parts meant to ring your ears, like he’s dragging out his affected past until it’s undone.
What makes the song most memorable is its sense of humor. It was something I needed as I fought through that year, something I still respond to when I hear those first few bars of piano next to the other disillusioned, blurry rock-cum-torch songs on Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone.
Or when I hear them on that mix, which happens to be waiting in my car’s CD player right now.
We’ve been had / I know it’s over
Somehow it got easy to laugh out loud