It’s in my nature to lament the end of all good things before they’ve even started. Less than twenty-four hours into my summer vacation (heck, it may have even been less than 24 minutes), I was already moaning that its end was fast approaching. I mentally catalogued all the tasks and adventures I wanted to complete that would never get done, guilted myself for the days that I would inevitably waste with my laziness, and filled my gut with nausea-inducing acid with thoughts of returning to work an abject failure at doing summer the way all my colleagues seem to, based on their cloying social media feeds.
It’s precisely this aspect of my personality that makes me love Mauno’s “How Long”, a song about millennial anxiety that works lyrics about dying and burning flesh into its chorus as easily as a pale frat boy gets a sunburn. I live in the same constant state of worry and dread as Mauno’s Nick Everett, although likely for different reasons. Everett’s life is starting to take shape in our unpredictable and unstable world, mine is creeping up on its best-before date and starting to show signs of wear and rot. I blame my grandmother for my pessimism. She prefixed every sentence she ever spoke with, “If I’m still here this time next year…” and wore funeral blacks every day of the twenty one years I knew her. Mauno’s dread and worry is more evidenced-based than mine ever was. Every time you turn around, the 21st century throws up another sign of the impending apocalypse, often coming in 140 characters or less. Like firefighters who use controlled burns to stave off further damage from wildfires, Mauno wields the dry wit and humour of their oddball pop song as a way to keep their worries and fears from engulfing their consciousness. “How Long” isn’t really asking “How long until this is all over?”, it’s a rallying cry to the disaffected: “Only you can prevent global annihilation.”
Go to it, young whipper-snappers. This old man is going to sit back in his rocking chair, watching and listening.
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