Doves: The Cedar Room
e all go through our angst phase. For most it dovetails nicely with adolescence, allowing us to act immaturely in the company of hundreds of others doing the exact same thing, letting raging hormones provide an extra boost to whatever it is we’re convinced means ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING to us that week.
For me, shamefully, it didn’t really kick in until my first year of university (thankfully a few years ago; I’m much better now, thanks). Sure, I got to spend high school disdainfully thumbing my nose at all the kids going nuts over various ‘insignificant’ things, but then I wound up going through the same thing. And not even in a unique way: I met a girl, fell head over heels, and proceeded to be gloriously miserable for nearly a year.
I was reading NME a lot then too, which probably didn’t help (this was back when I took them 100% seriously). And I downloaded damn near everything they recommended. And so, when they wrote about some song called ‘The Cedar Room’ by some band called Doves that they’d been talking up I took a listen. It was supposed to be “magnificently sad” or something similar. What the hell, eh? I WAS feeling sad, probably because I was making an idiot out of myself and didn’t know how to handle it yet.
The intro sucked. SUCKED. It was just some weird sound like someone’s voice pitchshifted into a weird, slurring sound. I expected epic indie rock. I stopped it immediately and almost deleted the song. Instead it got thrown in the odds and sods folder.
Cut to a few weeks later.
It was about 4 am, and I was still a tad drunk. It was time to listen to some MP3s and go to sleep. Set it to random. Whatever comes up. I was too busy playing Minesweeper to notice the crappy intro. And then…
That echoing guitar line. The solid, dependable drums. And “stars leave the morning/sleep clouds my view”. Wow, it’s kind of beautiful. “I didn’t notice it’s a crime to feel”. I start paying attention. I started identifying with the wounded feel of the lyrics. And then the part that actually dropped my jaw:
“And I tried to sleep alone
But I couldn’t do it
You could be sitting next to me
And I wouldn’t know it”
Over and over and over again. This was me. This was MY SITUATION. That chorus, it went on and on for what seemed like forever, the drums powering up again, the ache throbbing in Jimi Goodwin’s voice. I put that chorus on repeat, spent at least an hour just hearing those words, and the wordless backing vocals. There was urgency there, desperate to be understood. I was sure, that night, that if I just brought the girl into my room and played her this song she would UNDERSTAND and we would fall madly in love and my life would be perfect. But, yes, I understand, merely listing the lyrics from the chorus won’t make you hear the song, and even then it might sound, as it does to me now, merely magnificent instead of PART OF YOUR LIFE, being played back at you.
And that’s maybe why it sounds stupid now. Hell, it sounded stupid the next morning. One of the many things I learned that year was that how you feel about a person doesn’t necessarily make a bit of difference to how they feel about you. And if it doesn’t, you can’t change that. I was beginning to understand that by the time I heard ‘The Cedar Room’, but it didn’t matter. I was sleeping alone, and I was feeling like I couldn’t handle it. People around me were hooking up like rabbits. But I only wanted one girl, and she didn’t want me. That’s what ‘The Cedar Room’ sounded like.
By: Ian Mathers
Published on: 2003-11-13