A pretty good live version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w5KCf8hXvo
I first heard Muse’s “Madness” on the radio in a silver Chevy Aveo on Grove Street in Arlington Heights, Illinois. I was driving, and the same g.d. argument as usual was momentarily silenced by my initial surprise. I shook my head; even though Muse is far and above my favorite band, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like their favorite band’s music to be played on the radio. Plus, the song came out thirty years ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRdo7WXTVoM), it’s poppy, and it lacks the traditional Muse depth. Nonetheless, I turned it up and secretly found myself aesthetically pleased and happy to share what is so personal to me with someone I cared about.
Little did I know, that song would end up representing everything I hate about Chicago.
June 2014. My car was completely packed for the second time in a few weeks. I was going to check out one last place before giving up on the apartment search.
In order to get there from where I was, I had to take the 4th Street exit, the last SF exit before crossing the Bay Bridge into Oakland. As I neared the exit, I realized nothing was keeping me here. I could just as easily escape to freedom, with the wind carrying me eastward through the mountains and across the rivers. For some reason, I had my sights set on Chicago. Maybe I was homesick. Maybe I felt like an imposter who didn’t truly belong on the west coast. Maybe I wanted to successfully re-do what was an initial failure. Maybe I just wanted to spend less money. I’m not really sure, but just as I was thinking all of this and approaching that exit, I heard a familiar tune on the radio. “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma maaad maaad maaad…”
Haha, of course. I turned right. But barely.
Muse came to Chicago in February 2013, and I went to see them alone. Earlier that week, I put an end to Us for good. But after that moving concert, as my sleepless self ran four miles home in jeans through the freezing dark night in iffy neighborhoods instead of taking the bus, I had second thoughts, and another long night of arguing and cuddling ensued.
A month later, when things had gotten toxic and the peak of the craziness had been reached, I saw on Twitter that she posted some of the lyrics to “Madness” in a series of tweets. It happened to be a truly insane night, but I thought this was a little histrionic and immature. And I saw it as extremely manipulative on her part, because she clearly knew I would see it, and she clearly knew I loved Muse. We were both a little dramatic in this sense.
See, here’s the deal. My time in Chicago was rife with relationship lunacy. We were crazy, plain and simple. I saw a side of myself I truly never want to see again. We were on and off at the literal snap of a finger. Making up came right above laundry on the weekly to-do list. We made scenes. We surprised ourselves. We said and did really nasty stuff.
For six months or so after moving, I couldn’t listen to any of Muse’s latest album because it was marred with depressing memories. When I came back out to SF, though, I was finally able to approach it. I realize now how apropos those tweets of hers were…
I’m not a lyrics person for whatever reason, but the lyrics of “Madness” are simple, and they are eerily applicable to my time in Chicago. Yes, I know they are applicable to millions of people in the world, but I feel a certain connection with that song I’ve never felt with any other song in my life.
On a daily, hourly, secondly basis, I couldn’t “get these memories out of my mind.” When I personally “look back on all the crazy fights we had,” I wonder why we continued. I aged five years in just one year in Chicago.
So, was it real love, or was it just madness? I don’t really know the difference. Do I “need your love?” Do I need you to “come on and rescue me”? No, but I “have finally seen the light.” I realize now that my problems actually got worse when we were apart. Breaking up was never the fix I thought it would be. What I hated was myself, not us, and I needed freedom from my mind, not from our relationship. I brought the issues upon myself and created a hell out of that city.
I admit, I think about what could have been with us, with that city, had I been more stable. If I could go back and do things again, would I do them differently? Yes. I would have not dated anyone in the first place.
I stayed in SF. I got a temporary job. Things are looking up. Who knows how long I’ll be out here, but I need a bit more time to weed out any traces of madness before thinking about returning.
We were drinking Moscato and playing Phase 10 when we first decided to come up with “our song.” We never stayed together long enough to make any progress in this regard, but I’ve had plenty of time to think about my choice now.
I’ve found our song, hun!