While manning the CdT ship isn’t my full-time occupation, it nevertheless takes up a solid chunk of my time. And while this is most assuredly a labor of love, football is far from the only palliative I have for the slings and arrows of the real world. Cooking, running, vintage books and the infuriating art of espresso extraction are all passions of mine, but you can rest assured if AS Roma were an esoteric/alternative/indie band, I’d be equally enraptured.
While sports are a wonderful vehicle for solace, they are, by the very nature, fleeting. Seasons and players come and go, the matches themselves span only a few hours, a towering homerun lasts only as long as gravity allows while a beautifully bent free kick is gone an instant. These moments, though our hopes and dreams are conflated within them, are fickle, barely lasting longer than the energy required to create them.
But music, music is entirely different. Literally living inside your pocket, music is omnipresent. It follows you from dawn to dusk, from beginning to end, worming its way into life’s most important moments. Because music is essentially timeless, it offers limitless opportunities to create and change meaning, not only for the grand moments in life, but the idiosyncratic, the novel, and the downright absurd. Yeah, you remember your wedding song and your grandpa's funeral dirge, but you’ll never forget the song that was playing on the PA system when you dropped a case of Snapple on the floor on your first day as 16-year-old stockboy or the competing noises of your freshman dorm.
Since music envelops our very existence, it’s only natural that it blurs the lines between our pursuits. When I’m running, I have certain songs for certain mile markers—up tempo to get me going, slow and listless to make me forget the pain of the middle miles, and something uplifting towards the finish line—but when I hear these notes in any other context, I can almost feel the pavement beneath my feet and sense the burning in my lungs (I’m not a good runner), but once that quick hit of nostalgia fades, I’m suddenly present in a different moment, and the melodies and rhythms that once propelled me to new heights in my Asics are suddenly accompanying me as I get my teeth cleaned or head out for an awkward first date.
With music there is no beginning and no end, no tether, no limit; it’s like a gas in that way, taking the shape of the object in which it exists. Music is also the most subjective of all mediums; what wows or inspires one, bores the next. What seems dull and linear to me might seem infinitely complex to you, but that’s the beauty of music—for every ear there is a beat; music is the biggest tent of all.
While I wouldn’t dare say they’re my favorite band of all-time, Arcade Fire’s music is so layered, so nuanced, so unique and so diverse that I can derive new meaning with nearly every listen. Whether it’s due to their comingling of influences (1970s style arena rock, 80s progressive/nuwave, disco, punk, alternative, among others) the quick, intermittent and beautiful interjections of Quebecois, or simply the amount of goddamn people in the band, they hold my interest like few other artists, worming their way into virtually every facet of my life, even calcio, with Win Butler and Regine Chassagne serving as the proverbial Totti and De Rossi for the band, and “The Suburbs” being the musical equivalent of Roma’s 2001 Scudetto—sheer perfection that can never be replicated.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, as is so often the case, inspiration and introspection comes when one least expects it, hitting you like a ton of bricks. One night, admittedly after several drinks, one of the band’s more recent singles, Creature Comfort, hit my ears and the magic within that 4:43 seconds of Canadian/American alternative music struck me as the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Roma fan in this day and age.
God make me famous, if you can’t, just make it painless.
That’s the refrain from a song that traverses everything from body images to suicide to waning prosperity, but something about that chorus, and the manner in which Butler’s voice is shadowed by Chassagne’s shrieking, struck me as the perfect summation of the problem plaguing the 21st century, and by extension our beloved football club—we want it all, but if we can’t have it, just make us numb.
We want Roma to be the best club in the world, but if God can’t will that to happen, just please let it be painless. Title droughts are nothing compared to the blowouts on the biggest stage, the last second losses to shitty teams, the constant turnover on the touchline and the agony of watching our players sold summer after summer. So, sure, keep us perpetually irrelevant, but for the love of God, spare us that pain and that ignominy. If we can’t reach the pinnacle, being overlooked and seldom thought about is a far better alternative than the pain and despair of coming close, again and again.
While I’ll spare you the sanctimony of contextualizing that particular lyric with the modern pursuit of fame, suffice it to say, it carries a bit of weight when you consider the depths to which people will plunge to gain a shred of notoriety.
However, in the light of Roma’s recent record, something about that song, and in particular the chorus, resonated with me just a bit more. I’d love nothing more than for Roma to be most famous and powerful team in the world, but if that can’t happen, just let ours be a painless existence.