Three Minutes Fifty-Three Seconds


Three Minutes, Fifty-Three Seconds. That’s all the time I need to take me from a melancholy mental state to one of contentment. To raise me from the precipice of self-loathing to the highs of a smile. To bring me from the point where I feel as if it can never get better, to the point where I know nothing can stop me. Its no coincidence that Three Minutes, Fifty-Three Seconds is the precise length of the song This Year by The Mountain Goats on Spotify.

Have you ever fallen head over heels for a song? I hesitate to call it ‘love’, but that’s kind of what it is, isn’t it? Maybe not as serious as love for lovers, or love for friends, but love all the same. A song can bring you such great, great joy, or such painful and terrible heartache. It’s a microcosm of relationships – an amuse-bouche of what one experiences in all the good and bad that comes along with love. A song you fall in love with has a ballistics arch – it’s a shooting star of power, of hope, of joy…only to fizzle out, crash to earth,  only to have you turn your gaze back to the skies in hopes of that new, amazing, brightly burning shooting star to infect your mind with its melodies.

When I fall for a song, it’s constantly in my head. Whether literally blaring through my ear buds or on repeat in my brain, it remains. I find myself humming the melody on the way to meetings, drumming along to the beat idly at my desk, or writing out the lyrics knowing that the words the artist uses speak so directly to me, that if I just get them down on paper I can unlock, or at the bare minimum recognize the point where this piece of art so infected my life that it’s almost as if the song was written just for me. With This Year, it was the opening bass line progression that really hit home – it ascends, inspires, and blends itself so effortlessly into the overall scope and beauty of the song that it seamlessly makes itself a constant fixture in my head.

Of course, I know it’s not to last. Eventually, those Three Minutes, Fifty-Three Seconds will start to wear on me and I’ll skip the song when it comes up on iTunes. After doing this a dozen or so times I’ll realize that it’s as a result of my psychological evolution and emotional need, and I won’t feel the desperate need to hear the song at all times, or to start my day, or before I go into an important meeting at work. Sure, it might come up on shuffle in a few months and I’ll remember how much I loved the song, but it won’t ever be like it was those first beautiful, magical weeks when I first heard lyrics that hit like a sledge, a guitar riff that sings, and drums that make me tap my feet involuntarily. No, it’ll just be a song…one I enjoy, but not one that is a compulsion to hear.

There have been a few occasions where the relationship, that love, has rekindled after an extended absence from each other. I remember the first time I’d heard the song The Twist by Frightened Rabbit after a six month absence from my iPod – it was like the machine knew we needed a break. But that first time I heard it again…it’s such a powerful song. The lyrics say everything I wanted to say to a girl I was in love with in high school, but never could. It made me reminisce, think back, and enjoy those memories of spending time with her. The song and I flirted for a time, even getting to the point where I made sure I’d listen once or twice a day, but eventually – as with many rekindlings – the spark faded. The emotion wore thin. And I remembered why I’d moved on in the first place.

I think, though, that everyone has a few musical true loves. And I think that it’s almost genre or emotion based – it’s that one song you immediately go to when you want to hear a particular kind of music. Sunshine by Minneapolis based Atmosphere is a song that’s timeless to me – a hip hop anthem for letting the serious shit go, for being appreciative of the people and places around you. 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot is that song that instantly makes me think of my wife, a love song that is so perfectly suited for our relationship and lifestyle that I can only wish it was written back in 2001 so it could have been played at our wedding reception. If I’m feeling destructive or aggressive, I’ll listen to nothing but the Sex Pistols for the afternoon – rotating between My Way and Holidays in the Sun.

So yes, I’m fiercely in love with a song. I’ve listened to This Year six times this morning, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. It is, at the same time, both a warm blanket of comfort and a call to arms to not give up, to keep pushing forward. When you can be inspired or boosted up, or at the very least made to smile by an artists work…if it can make you feel love, then it’s the perfect thing at that moment. We should all be so lucky as to be completely in love with a song. And much like with a person…sometimes all it takes is Three Minutes, Fifty-Three Seconds to be completely captured, dumbfounded, and head over heels in love.

I drove home in the California dusk.
I could feel the alcohol inside of me hum.
Picture the look on my stepfather’s face,
Ready for the bad things to come.

I downshifted as I pulled into the driveway.
The motor screaming out stuck in second gear.
The scene ends badly as you might imagine,
In a cavalcade of anger and fear.

There will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem next year.

I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.
I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.

Thanks to Peeta and Squaresville for the inspiration on this piece.

Jay Malone


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