While I can’t categorize the majority of my 141 days here in quarantine as all bad, barring a few particularly nasty outliers, I cannot call them all good days, either. The shaky-at-best sleep schedule that I had before has been shredded, along with just about anything resembling consistency and stability. Mindlessly plugging away at papers and scrolling through discouragingly empty job boards, the fear and anxiety that held the early days of social distancing have faded, coloring many of the days grey and lackluster.
With the bland cocktail of thoughts and emotions I’ve been grappling with here in quarantine, I have been more or less wallowing and feeling pathetically sad and alone in my experience. Hearing Tristan Brooks’ “Haze” for the first time, though, was a timely reprieve from this self-wallowing. It’s one of the few songs that, upon initial listen, made me pause and wonder, “Damn, did I write this?” It is an excellent little reality check that the uncertainties and difficulties of a prolonged isolation are felt by many.
Bluntly poignant, it digs into the near indescribable sensation of sameness that is a product of endless days without structure and a seeming absence of light at the end of the tunnel. Beginning gently, it has a clear and uncomplicated arrangement. Led by a quietly plucked guitar and soft, mellow vocals, there’s a thrumming consistency that gives the feeling of goalless plodding on.
“All of the hours committed to nothing / Surely would end all the same / Didn’t know what I was waiting for / There was no incentive to change”
A feeling of lack of structure and invariability is apparent in the lyrics, emphasized by the low droning of the arrangement. Brooks’ utilizes an intriguing kind of monotony that lends itself to the overall story without losing its intrigue: a risky and delicate balance, but one that pays off when done well. Of something I am now quite familiar with, he beautifully captures the tedium of days without change and meaningfulness.
“Pull out your phone and browse to the glow / To give all of your problems a face / Friends out there smiling, laughing, and crying / but you’re still here all the same”
Even with the addition of a subtle drum beat and a slight increase in vocal power here, the simple delivery of the lines goes largely unchanged. I find myself continuously playing this section over from my socially distanced bubble, watching others going back out into society as if nothing is wrong. Feeling a broken disconnect from others is all too often emphasized by social media overexposure, and Brooks’ captures this complicated feeling in a succinct and meaningful way.
“What a haze / what a haze / what a haze / what a haze”
For me and many others, of which I must remember to keep reminding myself when I don’t have Brook’s to do it, these past months have truly been a haze. Although “Haze” is particularly relevant now for those of us who have taken quarantine particularly hard, its impact extends beyond our current social climate. Everyone faces periods of difficulty in their lives where motivation is in low supply; it’s just an inescapable part of life. Next time you’re feeling down and removed from others, give “Haze” a listen for a little reminder that you’re not quite as alone in your experiences as you may feel.