And the worst part of Garden State- i.e. the worst scene of what might be the worst movie ever- can be seen here. If you think I'm going to embed that shit, YOU ARE WRONG MY FRIEND. I won't sully the free, poorly-designed pages of blogger with even a second of Zach Braff. I will, however, transcribe the scene in question. I don't remember character names, thank God, so I'll just use 'Zach' and 'Natalie.'
The two are in a hospital, or auditorium, or plane, or something. Natalie is listening to music.
Zach: What are you listening to?
Natalie: The Shins. You know 'em?
Zach gives a thoughtful pause.
Natalie: You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life, I swear.
She leans over, but Zach is filling out forms or something.
Natalie: Oh, I'm sorry. You're filling out forms. Conundrum! Do you think you could, uh, listen while you fill out the forms?
Zach responds to her light teasing with an unamused 'yeah, I get it' demeanor.
Zach: I think I can handle it.
Zach puts on the headphones. He's totally skeptical. But then...SOMETHING HAPPENS. 40 consecutive shots show Zach and Natalie smiling at each other. A life is changed.
Even watching that scene so I could transcribe it was painful. I hate, hate, hate the way they hammer you over the head with the song. Music is supposed to support a movie (see: Wes Anderson), not an overt advertisement that tries to jam emotion down your throat. My throat is closed, Braff. But here's why I really hate that scene:
Back in the second semester of my junior year in college, late to the game, I came across the album 'Chutes Too narrow' by The Shins. It's fair to say I listened in a state of moderate awe. Song after song was spectacular. I was convinced this was the best pop album I'd ever heard.
When I get into something, I tend to get a little obsessed, so I took to the internet to research The Shins. I discovered they had another album, 'Oh, Inverted World,' released a couple years earlier. So one day I borrowed a car and drove to the mall to buy it. I can't remember if I even owned an iPod then, or if I was still rocking the discman, but one way or another I brought it out with me to the Duke Gardens for a listen.
It was a gorgeous spring day, and I immediately loved what I heard on the album. It was a little more melancholy and brooding, maybe, than the driving pop of 'Chutes Too Narrow,' but equally full of excellent melody and poetic lyrics. I had a new favorite band.
Then track number 6 came on. "New Slang." And, uh...
Well, I'm not going to repeat any words mentioned in a Zach Braff script. I'll put it this way: I'm not a big crier. I can go through some bad stuff, or witness horrible things, without ever shedding a tear. It just doesn't occur to me. But for some reason, when a piece of art hits me in the gut, tears will come to my eyes. By the cry test, I seem to have strict tastes (thank God, or I'd be crying all the time and wouldn't have friends), so it's a rare phenomenon. But it's consistent; to give a quick example, I cannot watch the part at the end of the "The Royal Tenenbaums" where Chas loses it and says, "I've had a tough year, pop," without breaking down. Seriously, even writing that sentence and remember the scene makes my eyes water.
Sitting in the Duke Gardens, listening to "New Slang" for the first time, I started crying. It pains me to admit this, believe me. But that's what happened. I probably hit repeat 10 times in a row, and with each listen the sheer heartbreaking beauty of the song just shattered me.
"Life-changing" is a huge term. I'm not sure listening to "New Slang" changed my life in any measurable way. But it's hard not to be grateful for those moments where you feel truly affected, and until I grow old and my memory dies, I'll remember listening to that song for the first time.
And then Zach Braff cheapened the living hell out of it by writing that scene. You can't do that! You can't force your moment down other people's throats! I was hesitant to even do that here, on a simple blog. It can't work that way. Everybody has to have their own moment.
After "Garden State," the snide fuckheads in the indie music community would use that scene to devalue The Shins. If you mentioned liking any of their stuff, especially "New Slang," the inevitable retort would follow: "Did it change your life???"
So a big thumbs down to Braff. I still love the song, but he kind of spoiled it for a lot of people.
Anyway, here's the point: another great moment I had hearing a song for the first time was "White Winter Hymnal" by the Fleet Foxes. It's less obviously brilliant than "New Slang," but it has the same elusive, sad quality that appeals to me in music. It's something I always have trouble describing, and in the end can only explain it the way people sometimes explain that they believe in God: "I just kind of feel it."
Which is probably annoying to hear. Here's the song, along with a great video:
In a couple weeks, the band's next album is coming out. I've been waiting on that for three years, and I'm hoping there's a few gems in there.
My question to you is this: what's your "Life Changing" song. You can tell the story, or just list the song. I'm curious to find which specific tunes really get to people. Hopefully we get a nice cross sampling of genres and old versus new, and maybe I can make a mix or something.
Sound off in the comments. Happy Friday, and we'll be back to sports next week.