Nothing’s gonna change my world.
When you are young, you are tumbling from one discovery into another. Your first Leonard Cohen record! The first time you hear Tom Waits! As you are getting older, it tends to be more difficult to be surprised. Discoveries are getting scarce. For that reason, I developed a strange habit that I kept strictly for myself until now. I deprived myself of potential gems. I bought the new Tom Waits record, but I did not listen to it. I saved it for a special occasion, like a connoisseur of cigars that is keeping a precious Havana aside. Sometimes, this could last for months or even years. It sometimes forced me to be very silent or creative when my friends shared their impression about the new Sparklehorse record with me.
This singularity of mine started with The Beatles. When I discovered them as a teenager, every record was a true revelation. Until one day I had heard everything. And then I found their legendary Blue Box on a flea market. Amongst the regular stuff, it contained an album with the provocative title Rarities. I knew that goosebumps were waiting for me, but I decided to call this album my Havana and I put it aside.
I will always remember my last day at college. I had been travelling a long and winding road of different courses. Far too long, I had been trying to meet up to the expectations of the people around me and the false goals that I invented for myself. But then I ended up in a college of arts. That year, everything fell into place. Studying was no longer a duty, it became an anxious search for more knowledge about what I was really fascinated by. Before I realized it, I was ready to go to my last exam. I cannot say that I was nervous. I knew that I mastered the subject matter and I had to wait for another hour before my train would take me to the city.
I sat down and I thought about my young life. In a few weeks’ time I would be graduated. And then my life would really start: struggling with the expectations of all kinds of people that only meant the best for me. They were eager to guide me, they were going to shape my world. It made me restless, so I strolled to my record collection and I decided to treat myself to a nice Havana. I took the Blue Box, I caressed the beautiful leather case and a few seconds later an alternate version of ‘Across the universe’ filled my living room. The famous version of the song sounded impressive and even a bit bombastic, thanks to Phil Spector. But this version was intimate. John Lennon seemed to whisper the most poetic words he ever wrote in my ears: Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe. It made me think of all the well-meant advises of my parents who were already scouting the job market for me. And then this enchanting mantra echoed in my room: Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world. Tears welled up in my eyes. It almost hurt to listen to that song. So I played it again, hoping that the impact would fade. But the tears kept rolling down my cheeks. However, I did not feel sad. It was a catharsis that I experienced.
Eventually, I had to rush to my exam, but it seemed to go really well. I read the paper with the questions and I answered them with confidence. When I layed down my pencil, my thoughts meandered again. I thought about my passion for music and about the life that was waiting for me tomorrow. All of a sudden, I was startled by the professor who began collecting the exams at the front row of the auditorium. I turned around my exam paper and only now I discovered that the back side was filled with questions too. I feverishly started to answer them, but one minute later the sarcastic professor snatched the paper from underneath my pencil. If I did not have the answers by now, I would never have them! For just a moment, I sensed a wave of hatred welling up, but it ebbed away immediately. From that day on, nothing was going to change my world anymore.
Alain – Wearyland