The red light bled, the digital image fuzzy as the camera was overwhelmed by the scene it was trying to capture. The audio was distorted, the band louder than the microphone could handle. In the days before everyone had studio-level equipment in their pocket, having any footage of a live show was a treat, regardless of the quality. And when that footage revealed the first blossoms of new music from someone you were obsessed with, it didn't matter how many of the details you could make out. To take the words from one of my heroes; "Every moment [came] like a gift from the gods. Someone must have blessed us when they gave us those songs."
I can vividly remember the first time I watched that grainy video of Dilana performing her newest song. I had fallen in love with her voice through the corporate machine, but what I was waiting for was something honest, something truly from her. In those days, music didn't seep from every corner of the world the way it does now, and finding out what was in the pipeline required work. Seeing the title of the video pop up in the list of new uploads caught my eye, and sent me on a journey.
Dilana introduced the new song, and after a few seconds of being charmed by her accent, the band kicked in and began playing "Falling Apart".
Immediately, there was power in the music that crashed over me. Rock music is usually loud, but only in rare cases does it feel like a weight coming down on your chest. That kind of impact is hard to make, and though the sketch was rough, I could feel that from the very first. I watched that video countless times, waiting for the day I would be able to properly hear this song.
That day eventually came, when "InsideOut" escaped legal purgatory and made its way into the world. I listened with a focused mind to everything, but waited impatiently for that one song to begin. When it did, the pressure in my chest tightened, and I could feel the song speaking to me.
"I'm so bloody fucked up, I don't know where to start
Sick of hurting, I'm not falling in love, I'm falling apart"
I was trying to find my way, and figure myself out when I first heard the song, and those words connected with me. I could sympathize with being broken, and not knowing what to do about it. I wouldn't fall into that cliche of saying I felt as though the song was written for me, but I understood I was on the same wavelength, which was enough of a thread to hang on to.
Despite the lyrics, the song was not a message of self-defeat. The raging guitars and the roaring organ were a statement of defiance, a call for all the fucked up people to stand up and claim their status, to be proud and empowered of being self-aware enough to understood how we were broken. Everyone is, but not all admit it.
Through the years, the song would continue to grow on me, slowly becoming more and more a part of my unconscious. Later, when Dilana's next album was delivered, there was that old friend again, starting at me on the track listing. I asked myself how it could ever be improved on, how it could resonate more than the original recording.
What I didn't realize is how songs change with us over time. What was once a song about being unrepentant had evolved into something far more emotional. Stripped-down to an acoustic guitar and her voice, Dilana delivered a searing song that dug deeper, ripping at the wires keeping a heart beating. Now, with a few years more age and experience, the same words were a eulogy for the past, for the people we were, as we strive to grow and improve. Those words about falling apart were resigned, an acknowledgment that we are far from finished products. As people, there is no way to put the puzzle together.
Being able to hear the same song from two different perspectives, and have both of them remain vitally important, is something I can't recall ever happening before. I've heard plenty of rock songs be played in an acoustic setting, but it is always a changing of the window dressing, and never the view. What Dilana did was something special, being able to use the delivery to mold the message. While a recording may be a snapshot in time, a song is forever. "Falling Apart" endures within me because of that, and the lessons I have learned from it are why I consider it to be my absolute favorite song.