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 Post subject: 'Big Exit' by PJ Harvey
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:08 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:44 pm
Posts: 1121
Location: Sussex, England
By Ryo Miyauchi

“Big Exit” by PJ Harvey

If I could have written an entry in One Week One Band’s Songs of Love and Hate theme week, I would’ve wrote about this fantastic song and sent this entry in:

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is often regarded as PJ Harvey’s New York album. Maybe specific streets don’t get a shoutout, but at the least PJ Harvey lets a street-themed Folk flourish in the album. Thematically, a change of location doesn’t change the emotional impact of the record much. As long as PJ Harvey stays in a relatively metropolitan area, it would work. So a guy in California like me can resonate as equally as someone in New York or probably even Chicago because of PJ Harvey’s focus upon being a foreigner and having the disconnection as well as the naivete in the surroundings around her. Skyscraper and civilian filled New York is a perfect place to feel lost and being dropped in an overwhelming situation, with a mellower suburban background, it’s a new place to find challenge and revelation.

The feeling of disconnect and isolation resonated with me closer than any rush of being reborn from PJ Harvey in Stories from the City. The fear of being forcefully dropped in an unknown place is one of the scariest thing ever. I’ve never experienced much of that fear myself but just imagining placed in some place I’m unfamiliar with me overwhelms with uncomfort. Some people relish in the fact of new opportunities and a refreshing vibe, but I’m sort of the opposite. I like being comfortable of a familiar environment. I hate a life of routine, but it soothes me to be able to do things in a place I know well. But avoiding exposure to the unknown doesn’t mean I never felt and experienced the things that come with it. In fact, it’s an inevitable obstacle; it’s a challenge before personal progression.

Around the time I took a listen to Stories from the City was when I was experiencing a fresh break-up from a two-year relationship. It was a relationship I had during my transition as a high school student to a college student, so I lived in the comfort of my relationship and didn’t interact around my college much. And to be let loose on my own from the two-year long comfort, no doubt it was scary. PJ Harvey sang about being somewhere new physically, but that premise didn’t stop me from connecting with her disconnect and fears emotionally. I was still in the same place but now rang a different perspective.

The strongest song that I held on to the closest from Stories from the City was its opener “Big Exit.” PJ Harvey rallies as her loudest and most uncontrolled in the song, as if this was the start of her residence, fighting against the new environment. Like a culture clash side effect, Harvey swings away any foreign feelings, closing her out of everything in the process. In retrospect, she’s appreciative of the fresh surroundings, but in that moment, she’s very hesitant to embrace it all. Overwhelming may be an understatement of feelings as PJ Harvey practically demands for a pistol as an alternative gateway of escape. And her chorus “Baby, baby, ain’t it true? / I’m immortal when I’m with you / but I want a pistol in my hand / I want to go to a different land” swings with such contradictory spectrums of full embrace and hyper-rejection.

PJ Harvey just wants to go home to where she came from. The home she felt everything as perfect as it could’ve been. But no, she was stuck in another land and now she was reacting aggressively against the tide of change. I wasn’t struggling so much as PJ Harvey — thankfully neither was I ever suicidal — but the struggle was still there. At the same time, I recognize the huge pool of opportunity. The world and college life was my oyster, and I could do anything I want. Nevertheless, in the beginning, like PJ Harvey, if I could have gotten an one-way ticket back to how things were, I would have grabbed it without skipping a beat.

Falling out of a relationship is hard; much difficult when your life revolved around it very heavily. Being thrown into the single life is destroying to one’s identity. It’s like being thrown out into a different city, a crowded urban one, and starting life anew without knowing a single soul. The rush is so horrifying. But yet, once you swim in it a little bit, it’s such an exciting rush. Because that same rush, the one that gets you to grab a pistol, will soon transform you into something that gets you feeling immortal without relying on anyone.

It takes time to realize and fully feel that rush of immortality. And you won’t know it yet as you’re hoping for the end. The best remedy to it is to take it all in. It’s okay to admit you’re scared, because everyone is. If you don’t believe me, at least listen to PJ Harvey in the song. In “Big Exit,” PJ Harvey is scared out of her mind and she makes sure she lets it known. “Big Exit” is basically a call for help. “I want a pistol, I want a gun / I’m scared, baby. I want to run.” You don’t need it more simple than that. It’s painful to listen to PJ Harvey shriek with fear and not being able to anything about it. But releasing that inner angst may have been the most rejuvenating thing for her.

“Big Exit” is only the beginning but soon enough in Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey starts to feel more comfortable and walks differently than the destructive woman in the song. The world no longer seems to be on to her as she goes on, tackling everything in the process. It’s a song about dying to be saved, but in my eyes, as much as it cries to be rescued, “Big Exit” and PJ Harvey’s fierce expression is a song to save lost souls. Even by letting you and I know PJ Harvey too wants to be saved, it gets me tad closer to know I am okay and will be saved. Because in a lonely city, you only need one familiar soul, and things will start lightening up. I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take and neither can PJ Harvey. But don’t worry, you’ll feel immortal in the end.

Wiggins is so superbly unassuming, he looks like he's about to say 'Pop the gold medal in the post, I'm nipping out for some biscuits'

Mark Steel

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