Jason Keil

Jason Keil is a writer whose work has been published in the Phoenix New Times, AZCentral.com, Phoenix Magazine, and OnMilwaukee.com. He also co-hosts the podcast What The Fork.

Me and Eno and "Some Faraway Beach"

For at least two weeks around the time my mother passed away, I had Brian Eno's "On Some Faraway Beach" stuck in my head. 

It's a simple song. It consists of a single piano riff that continues to build, as if the melody were carrying you to heaven against your will. On the way to the climax, there's the lyric "Given the chance/ I’ll die like a baby/ On some faraway beach." It captured the melancholy I felt at the time. I was sad I had lost the person who brought me into this world, but relieved she was free of the earthly pain she felt throughout her life. 

Before this time, I loved the song because it planted the seed of the ambient musician Eno would become. Now it captures a moment in time that changed my life. 

Then I saw the film "Me and Earl and The Dying Girl" and that time I associate with that song was stolen from me.

It wasn't a blatant attempt at thievery. The director and I obviously shared how the song made us feel, and he used it for a few touching scenes in the film. The movie's title alludes to some depressing subject matter, but it's also a celebration of how film and media can reflect not only our culture, but our lives individually.

Two of the main characters are cinephiles, and they create hilarious tributes to films directed by Werner Herzog, Stanley Kubrick, and David Lynch. When they try to make an original film for the "dying girl" in the title, it proves to be an obsessive enterprise for the novice filmmakers and they struggle to find their creative voices. 

Again, the director took scenes from films I truly love like "A Clockwork Orange," "Blue Velvet," and "Burden of Dreams" and used them for the sake of humor. He steals the feelings of shock, surrealism, and awe I associate with those films and uses them as clever punchlines. 

I have mixed feelings about the storytelling techniques used in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." On the one hand, I'm happy that someone who shares a point of view so similar to mine is doing something creative and putting it out into the world. It gives me hope and inspiration. On the other hand, I feel disappointment because I didn't do it first. It feels like it was snatched directly from my head.

With "On Some Faraway Beach," Eno altered the way I viewed music. Through his point of view, I turned a song he created into something meaningful for myself. It's different when someone shares the same creative point of view as you. It makes me feel like I should have been braver in my endeavors. I could have worked harder, been more passionate and confident to put myself out into the world. Eventually the characters in the film finish their movie. I'm still trying to start.

I hope the moment will come when someone will feel that I stole something from their brain. But like the film's main character, I just want to feel passionate enough to run with it.