The Airborne Toxic Event’s Sometime Around Midnight

Songs about getting your heart broken over an old flame are a dime a dozen, but rarely do you find a song that has the bittersweet qualities and the emotional kick of a hyper-alcoholic truffle. The Airborne Toxic Event’s Sometime Around Midnight is one such song that will leave you feeling like you’ve just witnessed someone’s heart get repeatedly beaten by a sack of really pointy bricks. And then stabbed repeatedly. It’s horrifying, but you can’t stop watching. Listening, actually, but you know what I mean.

I’ve been a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event for some time now, but I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics of any particular song of theirs. I just really liked the strings and the guitar sound. But as I was on the bus back from the airport, tired beyond oblivion and my mind drawing a blank even as I was listening to the awesome 500 Days of Summer soundtrack, I decided to listen to something else and chose Sometime Around Midnight. 5 minutes later, I was sitting in my seat in a horrified silence. I mean, I wasn’t saying anything before, but now I couldn’t say anything if I wanted to. The song was possibly the most gut-wrenching song I had heard since Jeff Buckley’s Last Goodbye. Actually, it was more soul-crushing since apparently it was autobiographical and it really shows in the vocals.

So the basic gist of the song is, a guy has a chance meeting with an ex at a bar and realizes that he’s still in love with her. And then she stabs him in the heart by leaving with another guy and making sure that he notices. And so his life summarily falls apart and he gets drunk and makes a fool of himself in front of people but he doesn’t care because all he wants to do is see her because he still loves her and she’s completely over him it seems and OH WHY HASN’T HE GOTTEN OVER HER WHY WHY WHY??? Yes, that actually happened to the vocalist. His life sucks. Now, normally I would ask the question, “Well why did you break up with her in the first place?” but you really have to listen to the song to understand that it doesn’t really leave you with any choice but to whimper sympathetically. It reminded me of the reality vs. expectations scene from 500 Days of Summer (one of the most amazing movie scenes I have seen recently, by the way) in that the male protagonists in both situations are still very much in love with the girl while the girl isn’t necessarily so, but compared to 500 Days of Summer where you can sort of shrug and say, “Well, you could have seen that coming” despite whatever Regina Spektor says, this song will make you wince as you witness a heartbreaking act of emotional brutality. Honestly, if I hadn’t been in a vegetative state of mind when I first listened to this song, I might have cried. If you don’t felt anything after you hear the song, well, you need to do some soulsearching, because I think you might have misplaced yours somewhere.

Here are the lyrics

And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she’s wearing
you haven’t seen her for a while.

But you know, that she’s watching.
She’s laughing, she’s turning.
She’s holding her tonic like a cross.
The room’s suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there’s a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you’re too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don’t care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she’ll break you in two.

Yikes. That’s intense.

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