Bury Me at Makeout Week, Day 3: A Look Back at Mitski’s Breakout Album
Tag along as we celebrate the fourth birthday Mitski’s breakthrough album! Today, we listen to Mitski’s characters wrestle with growing up and toy with what it means to be a poet
It’s Bury Me at Makeout Week!
November 11 marks the fourth birthday of Mitski’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek, the breakthrough album that launched Mitski into cult-fave status. To celebrate Mitski’s classic record, each day I’ll be revisiting a song from the album, diving into the lyrics, loves, and lasting images that made it so beloved. Happy birthday, Makeout Creek! Mitski forever. If you missed the first two tracks, check them out here and here.
3. “First Love / Late Spring”
Nothing feels as new and big as love, as spring, as sky, as growing up, as being a child. Mitski’s inverted aging dreams delicately through “First Love / Late Spring,” a song that springs new and childlike and scary onto Bury Me at Makeout Creek. On this starry track, Mitski breathes deeply the sweet breeze of young love, singing outside windows and rushing to ledges, her adult body and childish heart begging for distance, touch, five more minutes.
“When you’re doing something you’re not used to, you kind of realize that you’re still a kid,” Mitski told The Cut, “even though the whole world around you sees you as an adult.” Mitski’s child is brave, if skittish, and her Mitski-at-25 is watchful, protective (“Please hurry, leave me, I can’t breathe / Please don’t say you love me”) — and yet, with this standout, twinkling track, she ventures forward, into black holes, “big night” skies, into childhood, or adulthood, or both. “I don’t wanna go home yet,” Mitski almost-whines, a wild woman staying out past her bedtime, holding our hand through all these scary feelings.
4. “Francis Forever”
“If the poet’s primary obligation is to see,” Paul Auster writes of Charles Reznikoff (Mitski’s eponymous Texan from the opening track), “there is a similar though less obvious injunction upon the poet: to duty of not being seen.”
And so Mitski, the inconspicuous rock star, takes walks and fumbles awkwardly with her hands on “Francis Forever,” Bury Me at Makeout Creek’s fuzzy hit overcast in longing and guitars. Though Mitski deals directly with Auster’s artistic instruction in the chorus (“I don’t need the world to see / That I’ve been the best I can be”), she employs Reznikoff’s self-disappearing objectivism in the second verse: “On sunny days I go out walking / I end up on a tree-lined street / I look up at the gaps of sunlight.” Sung beneath a canopy of shade and echoing distortion, this verse — and Mitski’s austere lack of commentary — shines light upon our way, permits the listener the feeling of her own aimless walk, her own tree-lined street. But Mitski, thank god, does not long submit us to this memory and, unable to resist, bursts into view: “I miss you more than anything.” Shuttering from such plain observation of the eye to such stark, awful feeling dismantles the “duty of not being seen” and yet, achieves Mitski’s most affecting act to date.
“The Reznikoff equation,” writes Auster, “which weds seeing to invisibility, cannot be made except by renunciation.” The Mitski equation, too, renounces, but adds one integer, one feeling, one terrible moment shining down through the gaps in the trees that heightens the feeling exponentially before passing on in a fling of guitars.