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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which There Were One Or More Ways To Be Free

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


I recently took a new job, and for various reasons at my old workplace, I have been telling people that I have a boyfriend just because it makes things easier for me not having other people speculate about my love life. Despite that, I have gotten close to someone who knows I have a boyfriend, sorry, that I "have" "a" "boyfriend", and yet still seems to be interested. Is the expectation that I will just break up with my boyfriend at some point or I am just mistaking his interest?

Helen T.

Dear Helen,

Saying you have a boyfriend is simply one of those that will come true simply by speaking into existence. (Phrases that operate on a similar level are, "I wish there was a Whole Foods around here" and "I wonder if Jimmy Kimmel cried tonight.") Most men find women with boyfriend more attractive, since things are impossible until they aren't. Plus, lots of people cheat. Since your boyfriend is not technically real, he will either never ask about him at all or want to know more.

I'm guessing he is the first kind of person, which means he probably just wants to keep you on the backburner, plus it probably takes off a lot of pressure knowing you are a taken individual.

I respect your lie, but I don't understand how you are going to transition out of it if you really like this guy. And if you don't, the boyfriend will probably have to exist indefinitely.


I was reading one of my boyfriend's books and I found a letter that an old girlfriend (I think) had written him. It was very sexual and nothing like the way that we would write or even talk to each other. (We do have a great sex life, but it just is not a verbal thing.) It was in fact rather graphic, not that I have a problem with that, but my boyfriend has never particularly expressed that was the sort of thing he enjoyed. Should this worry me less than it does?

Annie B.

Dear Annie,

In a relationship, say the one between Vice President Pence and his wife Karen, there is a specific erotic rapport that exists for the just the two of you. If you have a great sex life, that is more than enough. Verbal pitter-patter works for some people, and it is fun every once in awhile, but on some level it becomes more forced than authentic.

Whatever relationship he had with someone else is in the past, I mean probably, might not hurt to check the date on that letter.

You want to be authentic, don't you? Don't you?

llustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


In Which We Would Absolutely Die As John Keats

An Awkward Bow


I am ashamed of writing you such stuff.

The last days of John Keats involved a great deal of wishing for death. Indigestion plagued his stomach, and the severity of his symptoms from tuberculosis drove him to leave England for Naples, where it was thought that a better climate would enhance his prospects. Because of his illness and general low mein, none of Keats' friends wanted to accompany him to Naples. Instead an acquaintance would go.

John Keats by Joseph Severn

The young painter Joseph Severn had little in the way of money, so he took on the job of caring for Keats. Storms prevented them from going any farther than Northampton at first, and Keats was deeply bothered by a female passenger suffering from consumption. He had observed years earlier that "Milton meant a smooth river."

Keats had already left his previous life behind when he boarded the Maria Crowther. He penned goodbye letters to his sister and fiancée, both of whom were named Fanny. On board the Crowther he could not even muster the strength to masturbate and regretted never having sex with Fanny Brawne. "I should have had her while I was in health," he complained to a friend.

She contrived to disappoint me in a way which made feel more pleasure than a simple kiss.

Because of an outbreak of typhus in London, the Crowther was quarantined for ten days. Keats described his chest as burning with the fire of hot coals, and continued to regularly write letters to his friend Charles Brown. Penguin has put together the best of Keats' letters in a single collection, and although some are childish, others contain the best writing of the period.

He understands many a beautiful thing, but then, instead of giving other minds credit for the same degree of perception as he himself possesses, he begins an explanation of such a curious manner that our taste and self love is offended continually.

After his ship was again quarantined outside of Naples. Keats moved to Rome, into an apartment at the Piazza di Spagna. "The very thing I want to live most for will be the great occasion of my death," he explained somewhat insincerely in one of his last letters. He spit up what Severn noted was "fawn-coloured phlegm," and Keats' doctor predicted diarrhea. Their plan for daily walks through the plaza was now out of the question.

Severn gave up the responsibility for administering opium to Keats' doctor, because he was giving John too much of the substance. Dr. Clark hired a nurse because Severn would stay up all night sketching the poet to keep him company, never bothering to sleep. "He talks of a quiet grave as the first rest he will ever have," Severn wrote.

Severn had never eaten so well in his life as he did by Keats' bedside. He served Keats bread and milk every day, because it was all the man could keep down. For himself he had fish or meat, and always pudding afterwards. He loved the convenience of having fresh produce in Italy. Keats finally feel asleep for good one night in Severn's arms.

Casts were made of Keat's face, hands and foot. Doctors found in the autopsy that his lungs had been entirely devastated for the past two months. Despite not really knowing each other all that well, Severn and Keats are buried next to each other in Rome's Protestant Cemetery. All of Keats' friends in Italy put daisies on his grave.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.


In Which We Have Curiosity From The Cavity

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Shame Is Going To Die


Fever Ray
Karin Dreijer Andersson
producers Karin Dreijer Andersson, Peder Mannerfelt, and Johannes Berglund
October 27th on Rabid Records

The sheer number of identities inhabited by Karin Dreijier Andersson — whether in her influential project with her brother, The Knife, or in this solo incarnation — makes any lyrical statement absolutely believable. On the last track of Plunge, "Mama's Hand", she has returned to her mother role. "We have no one to trust," she explains to her progeny. "I'm yours to rock in place, I write to be at ease." Finally, there is an explanation for being a chameleon — it is substantially more facile a project than sticking to one thing.

Andersson, who is married with two children, is less at ease on tracks like "IDK About You." Plunge finds her vocals more substantial than they have been in the past. This is both a blessing and a curse on the record, because while Dreijer Andersson comes across as more confident in her vocal ability, to some extent this confidence is misplaced. Still, when she echoes the restrained hum of a bassline, there is very little to fuck up, as on the album's sinister highlight, "To The Moon and Back."

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I should not be too hard on Dreijer Andersson's vocals, because in most ways they could suit the industrial, rapacious mood of her nightmares better. Her best vocal performance happens on "Falling", as she sings, not particularly convincingly, "You made me dirty again." Dreijier's aesthetic is meant to be political, and much of her lyrical efforts concern feelings of helplessness, anger and inequality that rationally consume all of our lives to some extent.

Although The Knife was a cohesive and engaging effort, it always felt like something of a side project. When Dreijer Andersson released her first album as Fever Ray eight years ago, a part of her shook loose. The producer of that album was the talented Christoffer Berg. He is gone, but Peder Mannerfelt returns to join newcomer Johannes Berglund, who mixed the album. 

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On "Mustn't Hurry", another high point for Plunge, Dreijer Andersson collaborates with the brilliant Paula Temple to create the album's genre-bending, defining track. She sings,

Drove out in the morning
Where shame is going to burn
Shame is going to die
I'm feeling weak
A beast to seek
Licking my fingers
Got the last crumb
My curiosity from the cavity
Is something to stick in

Given all that she has in life to be thankful for, you expect something other than the relentless dirge of the album's title track. Maybe Plunge as a whole gets closest to that on "Red Trails", when a violin emphasizes the chanting of the refrain. "Touching in the snow one day, laying low and kissing," she chants, in something of a celebration. Plunge is all about having total choice in the way we express ourselves, and if the album isn't exactly something you would put on to cheer yourself up, it is Dreijer Andersson's prerogative: "Blood was our favorite paint, you were my favorite pain." That she can derive such a meaningful darkness from these events is its own kind of joy.

Janice Levens is the music editor of This Recording.

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