I See Myself Change As The Days Change Over.

My friend Madelyn over at A Dinosaur in Brooklyn has a nice retrospective post up about a The Wrens / The Walkmen concert she went to a couple years back. She’s more qualified to talk about The Wrens than I, but since she doesn’t say too much about The Walkmen (“I remember the lead-singer being extremely adorable and tall and there being a crazy-looking, stripped-down piano”), I thought I’d write a bit about their lovely song “We’ve Been Had”, from their debut album Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone.
I listened to “We’ve Been Had” obsessively at a vague point in high school - 2003? 2004? - without ever once feeling the compulsion to explore the rest of The Walkmen’s catalog. This was a strange deviation - normally, when I like a band, I listen to as much of their music as I can get my hands on. But I loved so many little things about “We’ve Been Had” that I was afraid to sail further lest its quirks begin to grate: would I still like the singer’s strange, lagging diction after a whole CD? (He sounds as if he’s constantly playing catch-up with the next couplet.) And would all the songs be built around one-handed keyboard riffs? Safer, I felt, to just love the song I knew, and not risk spoiling “We’ve Been Had” with the Walkmen’s other songs, which were almost certainly mere simulacra. I don’t know quite what I heard in the song’s lyrics at age 16, but recently I’ve realized they’re a perfect summation of the way I feel now: the way I feel old despite knowing, objectively, that I’m not; the disillusionment that came with the first sharp taste of adulthood. “See me, age 19, with some dumb haircut from 1960,” The Walkmen sing, “moving to New York City / live with my friends there, we’re all taking the same steps / we’re foolish now”. There’s a lot of cynicism in that line, but a lot of nostalgia, too, and a weird sort of optimism. And, sure, that all seems an improbable combination, but it’s as close as I can come to capturing what it’s like to be twenty-two.