The Undertow: A line-by-line breakdown of my quarantine anthem, Mitski’s ‘Nobody’

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My God, I’m so lonely

So I open the window

To hear sounds of people

To hear sounds of people

If I opened my window right now — which I won’t, because it’s cold out and God doesn’t want to give us anything these days — I wouldn’t hear the sounds of people. I’d hear the sounds of a few cars on the road, braving Day One of Philadelphia’s shelter-in-place order to partake in what the city defines as “life-sustaining activities.” Getting groceries, exercise, procuring medical services — you get the gist of it. Everything else is prohibited until we’re told we can go outside again. Every once in a while, I see people walking through the woods across the street from our house, but I doubt I could hear their sounds over the dissonant rain anyways. 

The first line still rings true in these strange times. My God, I’m so lonely. 

Venus, planet of love

Was destroyed by global warming

Did its people want too much too?

Did its people want too much?

In a truly demented sense, I almost wish for times when global warming was the biggest fear in my mind. I guess that was a month ago, but time doesn’t really flow in the same way when the world is stuck in tutorial mode for the foreseeable future. Of course, it is still a glaring threat hanging above us, but we can’t focus on that right now. It’s like if someone was pointing a gun at you but then someone else was charging at you with a chainsaw. 

The horrific and dramatic market crash of the past month lends credence to the repeated line, “Did its people want too much,” as we begin to ask these important, near existential questions. Is part of our country’s failings tied to our uber-capitalist mindset that too much is never enough? Did we take our eye off the ball of looking after our own in the chase of profit? Was our eye ever on it in the first place?

And I don’t want your pity

I just want somebody near me

Guess I’m a coward

I just want to feel alright


A pedestrian walks past a boarded up Wine and Spirits store in Philadelphia, Friday, March 20, 2020. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf directed all "non-life-sustaining" businesses to close their physical locations late Thursday and said state government would begin to enforce the edict starting early Saturday.  Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

A pedestrian walks past a boarded up Wine and Spirits store in Philadelphia, Friday, March 20, 2020. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf directed all “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close their physical locations late Thursday and said state government would begin to enforce the edict starting early Saturday. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

I miss my friends so goddamn much. I’m hours from them in this podunk town called Philadelphia, and I haven’t seen them in the flesh in nearly two weeks. As a senior, I can’t say with certainty that I will — and that hurts! Well, stubbing your toe hurts. That’s eviscerating! This wasn’t how I was supposed to start my “adulthood,” and the failings of so many powerful people are only exacerbating this anguish.

I believe the reason so much of my generation and the following one are so radicalized and angry is that there haven’t been many society-wide successes in our lifetime. I do not have a memory that didn’t take place during a war in the Middle East. I’ve now lived through two recessions (the same amount as my 67-year-old father). I just want to feel alright.  

And I know no one will save me

I just need someone to kiss

Give me one good honest kiss

And I’ll be alright

We already live in a very horny epoch, but forcing us into a situation where we can’t even see other people in person has ramped this into overdrive. The amount of “horny on main” I’ve seen on Twitter would make a nymphomaniac embarrassed. Even those already in relationships have thought twice before doing anything un-Christian. New York has gone as far as to offer recommendations regarding sex. By the end of this nightmare, locking eyes is going to have the same visceral impact as the real thing. Real Puritan hours!

Nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody

Ooh, nobody, nobody, nobody

Mitski’s simplistically unique chorus cuts to the core of how we’re all feeling right now. Miles from the friends and campus we associate with and locked in without even getting the good grace of making nice with a stranger. Nobody, nobody, nobody, ad infinitum.

I’ve been big and small

And big and small


A man participates in video chat. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn has moved to online classes for the remainder of the semester.  Photo by    Kentaro Toma    on    Unsplash

A man participates in video chat. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn has moved to online classes for the remainder of the semester. Photo by Kentaro Toma on Unsplash

And big and small again

And still nobody wants me

Still nobody wants me

Mitski didn’t write a Nostradamus-style hymn predicting the coronavirus two years before its outbreak; some of the stanzas are just about wanting a lover. Not sure how to bend this one to our moment. Maybe something about webcam windows shrinking big and small as different people chime in during online lectures? I don’t know; these can’t all be winners. On to the next one! 

And I know no one will save me

I’m just asking for a kiss

Give me one good movie kiss

And I’ll be alright

It’s incredibly tough to have no faith in the leaders of our government to come through during this time. We were raised to believe in American heroes that pulled our collective populace out of the proverbial mucks our democracy has come through; Lincoln, FDR and so on and so forth. Donald Trump? The game show host that bragged about sexual assault on a bus? That’s our knight in shining armor that is supposed to save us from a global pandemic, even though he has put profit above human life at every moment of his life? That’s what’s going to be taught in future history books? Hard to parse. One good movie kiss would make me alright, for now. 

Nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody

Ooh, nobody, nobody

>
Miles from the friends and campus we associate with and locked in without even getting the good grace of making nice with a stranger. Nobody, nobody, nobody, ad infinitum.

Nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody

Nobody, nobody, no

Yep.


Daniel Cohn is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.

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