I was floating down the streets of Paris at 40 kilometres per second, my arms straining against his denim jacket, laundry powder and cigarette smoke and joyful fear. A thousand indie rock songs spinning in my ears. Like a dream from a movie where I couldn’t belong. I was in Paris in summer, and I was having the time of my life. He had curly hair and converse and he was Into Music. But not just any music… he was into my kind of music. And we were talking about all the music we loved, and he said, well of course you love Frankie Cosmos. I’d never listened to Frankie Cosmos before, but I said, of course, I LOVE her. Weeks passed and I left Paris, and the Cute Music Guy messaged me. Have you heard Frankie’s new album?
I’ve always had a thing about people who create things that are too similar to the things I want to create. Resentment, jealousy, bitterness at myself and my lack of productivity and/or success. I’d never heard a single one of her songs, but I knew Frankie would trigger this feeling. I opened Spotify on the tram, and Frankie filled my ears. And of course the Cute Music Guy from Paris was completely right. Frankie was everything I’d ever wanted to listen to and everything I’d ever wanted to write and sing and make. Her words were like the poems that fill up my word documents and her songs were like thousands of voice memos crowding my phone. ‘I floated in and started living…’. Frankie was narrating and analysing my true, idealised, sad, ironic, intense teenage/adolescent/twenty-something experience.
It was winter when I came back from my Summer in Paris, and I was very sad. I was lonely, and nihilistic, and I would lie in my bed in the room I’d just moved into, away from my parents room because it was Time for me to Grow Up a little bit and it was dark and cold and I wore lots of turtlenecks and ate lots of miso soup. And every morning on the way to the city on the tram I would put on Frankie. Over and over again.
I won’t say that Frankie Cosmos changed my life, because it was like she was there the whole time.
Frankie, I love your lyrics that manage to be equally sad and joyful at the same time. I love your pseudo-ironic-self-awareness and your angst and your disillusionment and your idealism. But most of all I love my weird sense of possession over your music. I love that your words sound like my words. And when I listen to you I feel like I’m listening to myself. Or a best friend who’s too similar to me but too cool to hang out with me. I’ll always be sad that I didn’t write those songs first.
Thank you for letting me cry on the train, and watch the rain, for making me scrape my ankle on my bike, for making things mean something, for letting me feel things. Thank you for letting my emotions flow free on your clean production, shimmering and beautiful and full of possibilities. Thank you for breaking my heart and filling it in the same breath. Thank you for your drums like my calm blood pumping, and your soft smiling crying voice and your simple chords, one four, one four, five, one, they go into my ears and through my brain and I drink them down my throat and into my oesophagus and digest them into my stomach, where they make my constant butterflies dance, hitting the edges of my insides, stroking my skin, filling me up, nourishing. I don’t need earnest legato violins to make me weep when I have your plain electric guitar. I don’t need distorted amplifiers to make me feel punched in the gut when I have your gentle drums and bass and chords. I don’t need to read novels when I have your six line sonnets that tell my stories just as well.
We don’t talk anymore, but I will always appreciate Cute Music Guy from Paris for introducing me to Frankie Cosmos, though I think her impact on my life will be far bigger than his.