The Horror of Morning Awareness

I have a stack of notes on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, but I’m not in the right headspace to dig in to that subject right now. Instead, I’d like to share some thoughts from my morning commute today:

First and foremost, I’m a roll-out-of-bed-and-get-on-the-train kind of guy. I altered my routine a little today, having a cup of coffee and a small breakfast before leaving the house. As a result, I arrived at work this morning relatively awake and alert.

I’ll try not to make that mistake ever again.

One of the things that makes it possible for me to continue to go to work as early as I do is that I’m not properly awake when I depart. The fog doesn’t lift until I’ve medicated myself with the “coffee” downstairs so, by the time I properly wake up, I’m already here and might as well stick around. Today, however, I was intensely aware of the fact that I was pushing myself out of my nifty little domicile featuring a still-sleeping beautiful girlfriend to go to an office that seemed about as inviting as .

Clearly, I am not what you would call a “morning person.”

However, this strange, unwanted lucidity did come in sort-of handy while I was on the train. I was thinking of Devo. You know, the band, “Whip It”, the silly hats? I recently saw them perform some of their older material and it was a delight. They can still do “raw” decades after they originally recorded this music.

Then I got to thinking about how weirdly parallel their career was to that of R.E.M., up to a point. Their debut albums were considered revelatory, pushing music in a new direction. The follow up records, “Duty Now For the Future” and “Reckoning”, were in a similar style to the debuts but, in my opinion, they were both improvements. “Duty…” was so much colder and harsher than “Q: Are We Not Men?”, and the songs were stranger and more memorable. Meanwhile, the first side* of “Reckoning” was the strongest that R.E.M. would produce until side two of “Out of Time”.**

For both bands, album three (“Freedom of Choice” and “Fables of the Reconstruction”) were stylistic departures that tightened up the original sound and produced commercial breakthroughs. The next records, “New Traditionalists” and “Lifes Rich Pageant”, softened and refined the previous record’s formula and sold by the boatload (curiously, both had melancholy hits, “Beautiful World” and “Fall On Me”).

The parallels after the first four records aren’t nearly as strong, but both bands meandered a bit and their releases became less consistently strong and/or commercials. R.E.M. would still sell well, particularly on “Out of Time” and “Automatic for the People”, but Devo’s commercial viability was essentially at an end.

I’m not sure if there’s any meaning to the connections, or if there really is any similarity or of I’m just loopy, but it struck me as interesting if not important. I’ll get back to the snark soon enough, but I just wanted to get this down on virtual paper before I forgot it.

* Yes, I know that by talking about album sides, I’m dating myself. It’s not as if anyone else would.

** Ok, sure, side two had “Shiny Happy People,” which isn’t exactly the apex of their career, but it gets really, really dark after that. “Half a World Away,” “Me in Honey,” and, especially “Country Feedback” cross the line of melancholia into pitch-black depression. It’s a really great record.

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