Yes it’s Labor Day weekend 1990 and you’re in a bronze Tercel wagon on the freeway between Great Falls and Helena coming out of the canyon at twilight. Yes the radio is tuned to 105.3 KMTX-FM emerging fizzily through the speakers like wind-borne stratus intercepting moonlight.
Yes it is Sunday night and yes the sky is Yves Klein with a handful of stars and a planet or two.
Yes Roxette comes on and the snare sounds like serrations of frozen air and yes the synths and chimes call to mind sun on a riffled lake.
Yes lay a whisper on my pillow.
Yes leave the winter on the ground.
Yes at the chorus your whole retral hemisphere sprouts a trillion tiny antennae standing at full attention and your spine glitters hotly and you’re what like four years old and have never before capital-H heard music and you don’t even have the language to ask: what song is this? and yet somehow you remember this moment more clearly than whole years of your life or the colour, for instance, of your dead grandfather’s eyes.
Say it’s [x] years later.
Say you’re repressed.
Say deep inside of you there’s a box and say this box is sealed or locked or latched and say inside of this box is an absolute fucking maelstrom or some trapped creature brimming with gleeful rage or I don’t know just bewildering prelingual chaos and say maybe your personality in a manner of speaking is just the elaborate decorations you’ve painted on the outside of this box.
Now say it is the power ballad, absurdly, singularly, that from time to time crowbars open the lid of this box and frees, momentarily, all that is contained.
Say it is this state of feeling you chase and have always chased and say this is why you listen on repeat.
Say it is through the power ballad you see most clearly that which decorates the box.
Joseph Yaeger, 2020