The first day of spring, and I’m waking up to an unfamiliar sight: light seems to be coming through my curtains. Not the grey, soggy light that we’ve been forced to live by since November but actual, Vitamin D-infused sunshine, somehow – bafflingly, considering the angles involved –  finding its way directly onto my face.

Later, after I’d stopped hissing, something equally strange occurred. My facial muscles, they were moving on their own, twisting, contorting, dragging upwards into something vaguely approximating a smile. Everywhere, this was happening. Random passers by, rather than screaming and running away as they normally do, nodded in greeting. Birds were singing, children skipping and the world itself appeared to be shrugging off the dead skin of a long winter and exhaling gratefully.

It’s the type of day for The Avalanches, for Air or Bon Iver. Not for Machine Head. But I’m sat here in a coffee shop with an absolute lunatic sat next to me, intermittently pawing towards my leg and I’m getting pretty cross. I don’t know this lunatic. I was sat quite happily on the corner sofa thing, halfway through a piece on Daft Punk, when he appeared, looming into my peripheral vision, his body odour potent enough to warp the air around him. The people opposite said hello, politely. I did the same, and returned to my headphones. He then grabbed the girl’s notepad from the table and started leafing through, before throwing it to the floor a few moments later. They left soon after, and he turned to me, his mouth a maw of decay.

The design of this room – there’s no way to run. He’d grab me as I fled, my skin mottling instantly under his touch. I don’t want those scars, and so I’m just cowering here, assessing my surroundings for possible weapons. Right now he’s telling me about his mother, bits of whom are likely still decomposing in his fridge. Like a Dementor he’s sucked away any joy from the day, my face now greying and void of emotion as I pray for death. Something quick. And please don’t take my body home.

And so: Machine Head’s Davidian. On every level it’s now the only appropriate song, from Rob Flynn’s opening, rage-filled roar to the chorus call, ‘Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast.’ I’d love a shotgun right now. Or even a real fork. This plastic one won’t do anything. Gouge an eye, maybe. He’s pawing at my leg again, shuffling closer. I’ve moved to the opposite sofa and he’s followed me, his torn white cardigan, smeared with food like a Rorschach test, set to feature in my fever dreams for years to come as the grinding outro plays over the top.

Davidian then, again and again. Did I mention where it’s from? Their 1994 album Burn My Eyes. God, I swear that’s what’s happening right now. My eyes actually melting from the smell, my desperate tears evaporating before they can even fall.

MP3 (right-click to download)

Machine Head: Davidian


One thought on “The Mangy Tune: Machine Head. Or: my traumatic Starbucks experience

  1. “My facial muscles, they were moving on their own, twisting, contorting, dragging upwards into something vaguely approximating a smile.”

    That’s a lie.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile…

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