Evanescence - Call Me When You’re Sober
tylus Magazine's Seconds column examines those magic moments that arise when listening to a piece of music that strikes that special chord inside. That pounding drum intro; a clanging guitar built-up to an anthemic chorus; that strange glitchy noise you've never quite been able to figure out; that first kiss or heartbreak; a well-turned rhyme that reminds you of something in your own past so much, it seems like it was written for you—all of those little things that make people love music. Every music lover has a collection of these Seconds in his or her head; these are some of ours.
Right off, I have to apologize: you're not receiving this article under optimum conditions. Ideally, we'd be sitting on the iron bench outside my front door. We'd be toasted on Thunderbird, and I'd be excitably summarizing this article aloud. Because, really, Stylus kind of killed the mood just by slapping the title on the front page. You're here, at least. Let's go.
Even since I moved into my new place, I spend the wee hours every night after work on the more uncomfortable of our two couches (it's nearest the one good outlet for my laptop). We've got the digital cable for another month or so; the beauty of digital cable is in groupings. So I'm constantly casting between MTV, VH1 Classic, the local music video station, Great American Country, whatever. It terrifies me, what I could be doing instead. This week, I've been looking for the new Killers video. When did Brandon Flowers become Scott Walker? It doesn't matter.
I have no significant history with Evanescence. No ex-girlfriend forced them on me during some painfully-and-wistfully-recalled late-night run. They had their records pulled from Family Christian Stores because a guitarist said something vaguely blasphemous in Guitar Hero or something. No skin off, etc. I've heard some songs; they were uniformly awful, but not awful enough to warrant giving a damn. In fact, when their video straggled in at 3 AM on MTV2, after Beyonce's "Ring the Alarm," I was surprised the band hadn't broken up since last hearing them.
You see me on the couch now, yes? I'm enjoying the classic formula: listless chords strung around three or four endlessly-iterated blips masquerading as a guitar line. Total diary fluff dressed up as grunge goff. "Deceiving" is rhymed with "believing," for instance. And the clip itself! Sumptuously filmed. Whatever the ProTools equivalent of makeup is, Amy Lee's obviously invested her share of the advance monies well. Wardrobe's given her a hood, and a couple wolves, and a banquet table, the latter stocked with a charming bastard for her to play haughty against.
So I was stunned when things went scarily, horrifyingly right after the third refrain. The band ebbs, leaving a chorus of Lees to sing "make up your mind" as she plays a treble-clef figure on her baby grand. This cedes to an organ and a slow funky drum figure (well, as funky as Modern Rock: The Billboard Category is likely to get). Then, after two minutes of generic rawk drama—hell, after three years and a full LP of generic rawk drama—Amy Lee tears into this choice couplet: "You never call me when you're sober / You only want it cos it's over".
I mean, I was stunned. She might as well have given the solution to the third Enigma cipher. In one couplet, with a delivery just shy of soulful—I mean, the plosive in "call" alone is pretty vicious—Lee came off as teasing, nostalgic, reproachful... but most of all, corporeal. The words may not read like much, but for twenty seconds, I was suddenly on my cell, being gently reproached by some girl from junior year. The fact that the song went immediately back to banality made the moment weirder. It wasn't ultimate truth, but it was truth the way I'd been experiencing it these last warm transitional months. Convinced I'd committed a Knoblauchian error in judgment (but hoping I hadn't) I started watching the video up to five times a night on three different channels. Jacques Brel's greatest hits, newly purchased, languished on the couch arm for three days. But I had to get shocked. Again and again.
I predict: in a few months, I'll work in the light and come home to find roommates awake, already watching television. A fragment of "Call Me When You're Sober" will bleed from a Now 25 commercial, instantly and richly transporting me to the exact fucking couch upon which I’ll be sitting. That'll be fine. Evanescence and I, we had our time. You can't build a relationship on low expectations, briefly surpassed.