Today, after years of listening to the song “Strange Loop,” I finally looked up what a “Strange Loop” is. According to Wikipedia (so, salt-grain taken):
“A strange loop arises when, by moving up or down through a
hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started.
Strange loops may involve self-reference and paradox.”
Like writing on your blog about how you have deleted your twitter, I guess, or always finding yourself in the same fight because the part of your personality that attracts people to you is the same part that makes them hate you eventually.” —
I like plenty of the other stuff she posts, but I think I check in on Emily Magazine from time to time just for the possibility that she’ll make another reference to Exile in Guyville, and for the way her particular references spin out in my brain.
The end of Strange Loop is so perfect, and partly because it does just what Wikipedia says. Phair has spent an hour mapping her struggle to make a mark of some kind in the minds of men who are obsessed with their place in a scene, and struggling with what kind of a person that turns her into. Judging by the lyrics, it sounds to me that she feels as though she hasn’t exactly succeeded. The effort has worn her out, and she’s realized that maybe she’s been going after things the wrong way. Musically, the song resolves into an exhausted mess of distant drums and arrhythmic guitar before most of the instruments fall away and she plays almost the same pattern - not quite, but close - that opens 6’1”, almost like she’s saying, “fuck it, that didn’t quite work. let’s try it again.”
Maybe it’s just that the year I spent listening to Exile dubbed onto both sides of a 120 minute cassette trained me to think that the album is meant to play on a loop.