You Can Have My Natalie Merchant Tapes When You Pry Them From My Warm, Loving Hands

There are a few necessary items.

  1. Three to four sheets or light blankets
  2. Clothespins
  3. Three to four mic stands with attached booms (booms are the kind of microphone stands that bends in the middle, for those unfamiliar with Specialized Mic Stand Lingo)
  4. One bottle, Jameson Irish Whiskey
  5. A record player
  6. Vinyl copies of the following records: Emma Ruth Rundle’s Some Heavy Ocean, Stars of the Lid’s The Ballasted Orchestra, and two copies of Huey Lewis & the News’ Sports
  7. 35 U.S. Dollars
  8. A copy of Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily on tape

Let’s get started.

Pour yourself a stiff four fingers of the whiskey, to bolster your spirit. You are about to build a fort, motherfucker—the only surety against the frigid pangs of despair that come sweeping across the Northern Valley every goddamn lonesome winter, isolating and intimidating even the most optimistic of souls.

Put on the Emma Ruth Rundle record, and begin erecting the skeleton of the structure, while Emma’s brooding reverb washes over you. The mic stands should lean inward, arching over the main body of the fort, ensuring that they will inevitably tip over and smother you with the blankets in the middle of the night. Next, attach the blankets to the mic stands, and any other elevated objects you can pinch a clothespin to, with the aforementioned clothespins. Use a LOT of clothespins. Your fort will still eventually collapse and devour you, but the more clothespins you use, the better your chances of making it through the night. By the time “Arms I Know So Well” plays, you should have your fort erected. If not, maybe take a break to nip a bit more whiskey. Once your fort seems relatively stable, crawl inside with the bottle of Jameson. Finish off the ERR record.

It’s time to Reflect on Your Entire Life.

Give the Stars of the Lid record a spin. Lay on your back inside the confines of your fort and stare into the middle distance for the next 45 minutes, while the needle evinces the opiate tones of SotL’s ambient masterpiece. The Jameson will come into play here, too. When “Music for Twin Peaks, Episode #30 Part I” comes on, accidentally spill some whiskey on yourself. The cold will shake you out of your stupor.

Get out of the fort NOW.

Put on the first Huey Lewis record. Turn it UP LOUD. The Heart of Rock & Roll is Still Beating, my man. Shake your shit around. Kick part of the fort down. You’re a grown-ass adult. Why do you have a fort?? Dance around your living room with the bottle of Jameson in your hand, sloshing around on all of your earthly possessions. Let the News record play all the way through. Now put on the next Huey Lewis album, which is also Sports, because it’s a fucking great record, and its going to get you through this god-awful rainy desolate hell.

Wreck more of the fort. Grab the 35 bucks. Call a cab.

You’re going to Duffy’s Dance Night.

I’m not much of a dancer, but you are. You’re a Diamond Firecracker Exploding in the Heart of the Sun. Dance like everyone is watching, and most likely making fun of your avant-garde dance innovations. These people are Philistines. Don’t let them dissuade what you’re feeling in your heart. They’ll join you, if they know what’s what. Give them time. Give them an entire Jukebox’s amount of time. Get loose as hell.

Get the hell out of Duffy’s.

Go home.

You’ve done enough.

Your fort, bruised as it may be from your earlier abuse, will welcome you into itself with open arms. Lay on the floor under your Empire Strikes Back blanket and listen to the Natalie Merchant tape, while you drift into oblivion. You’re going to make it through this winter. Natalie knows it, and I know it. Maybe take the fort down before you have guests over, though. Ah. F ‘em. Leave it up.