May 22, 2019

"The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard."

From Howard Stern's big book of interviews, a little insight into the travails of travel:
Howard: Then when this song becomes a hit, they send you out on tour, and that’s where you freak. You hated it.

Sia: Well, there were parts that I loved.

Howard: What’s the worst part of it? Is it just being in a hotel? Not being around your stuff?

Sia: It’s lonely. You have this family with you, this traveling family of wolverines that you create, and that’s not lonely. But if you’ve developed relationships outside of that, when you leave them it’s really hard to nourish them. I couldn’t ever maintain a love relationship. I don’t know. The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard.
The song mentioned above is "Breathe Me," which became a hit after it was used in the brilliant ending to the great finale episode of the TV show "Six Feet Under." Here's the official video for the song:



And here's that fantastic final sequence for "Six Feet Under":



When you travel, you're not 6 feet under, but the air conditioning is so weird and you do become like a lizard.

37 comments:

J. Farmer said...

I love traveling. Always have. Love staying in hotels. Love eating out. And I am probably one of the few (apparently masochistic) people who still love airports and flying. Even as an adult, I still get a little jolt of excitement over seeing jetliners, same as I did from my earliest memories of the airport.

Fernandistein said...

Harmless 20 pound lizard caught and murdered after year-long hunt

Kay said...

e .....the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard.

Sounds like life in Florida.

Nonapod said...

I'm not sure that I could deal with the nomadic lifestyle of the travelling musician. I hate travelling in general and hate not sleeping in my own bed. I've never gotten a good night's sleep when I'm not in my own bed.

But sometimes wish I was at least a bit more into travelling. There are a few places that I would like to visit before I die. Plus you always have stories to share with people when you travel a lot.

Ann Althouse said...

In the interview, she talks about writing songs quickly and intuitively, and you can see that way with words in just the spoken dialogue. Look how great this is:

"You have this family with you, this traveling family of wolverines that you create, and that’s not lonely. But if you’ve developed relationships outside of that, when you leave them it’s really hard to nourish them. I couldn’t ever maintain a love relationship. I don’t know. The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard."

Why did she say "wolverines" and "lizard." Those animals just popped up, and she didn't need to explain. You -- if you are responsive to her (and not everyone will be) -- instinctively know either what that means or that it means something and it will stay with you and feel meaningful or reveal meaning. There's generality and there's specificity in "The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird." Is she just talking about hotels... is she just talking about those machines that cool indoor air? What is the travail she experienced? You feel, perhaps, some overall memory of traveling and the disturbance it produced, summed up as air conditioning.

rehajm said...

I know exactly what she means. I used to hate being hot but the air conditioning is so weird. Artificial. But not anymore! Because I recently installed a Carrier Infinity system in my new home! Tailored to enhance your environment, the Infinity® System redefines comfort with the right mix of climate dimensions ̶ temperature, humidity, airflow and indoor air quality! I'm not paid for the endorsement but it really is something special. The air is cool and feels so natural.

Now don't get me started on the cost savings...

J. Farmer said...

Is she just talking about hotels... is she just talking about those machines that cool indoor air?

When I read it, airplane air is what immediately came to mind. I don't even know what it means to become like a lizard. Cold-blooded, maybe. Is she just saying she's too cold? And if it's hotels, doesn't she control the thermostat? Maybe the venues are too cold. Aretha Franklin used to demand that air conditioning be turned off when she performed as she believed the cold air affected her voice.

Carol said...

I'm not sure that I could deal with the nomadic lifestyle of the travelling musician.

When I did it, it was a few weeks here, a month or two there. That wasn't bad and we'd go back to stay at the same places. My last road band, we got out and rode bikes a lot during the summer, and in winter I'd ski a lot. In between times were hard, and yeah air conditioning all the time in Nevada.

That's what I don't get. People retire from Montana to Arizona for the sun, but they're really just as stuck inside during the long summer as we are during the long winter.

Worst drawback here is slipping and falling on the ice in old age.

J. Farmer said...

Hmm...growing up in Florida, maybe I just have a preternatural love for air conditioning.

Mattman26 said...

I'd forgotten how powerful that Six Feet Under ending was. What a great show. (Great song too.)

EDH said...

Q: How did it end?

A: Everyone dies.

In the long run we are all dead. But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.

John Maynard Keynes

Yancey Ward said...

Yes, that was probably the most perfect ending to a television show ever- how it dovetailed with the entire series' was simply jaw-dropping. I still remember watching it as it aired- there are few things in books, movies, or television that can bring me to tears, but that last sequence of Six Feet Under accomplished it, and when I was much older than the other times. The other times were Beth's death in Little Women, Nell's death scene in The Old Curiosity Shop, and Cassie's death in the novel The Dollmaker, but all of those were read when I was still under 20 years old.

Yancey Ward said...

The ending is the sort of thing that the series' creator almost surely had in mind before the first episode was shot.

Temujin said...

Thanks for that. Coming on the heels of the horrid last season and POS last episode of Game of Thrones, this reminded me how great the last episode of Six Feet Under was.

I've spent years on the road, staying in hotel after hotel all over the US. You do become a sort of lizard. The AC in every property is different. Hell, in many properties the AC from room to room is different. Some of them are anywhere from 25 to 5 years old, spewing who knows what at you. Making various levels of sound- some good, some hideous. I always feel like I need to clean my body out after a week in one of those places. But just staying in hotels so much you become bored with it all.

Yancey Ward said...

I hadn't really thought about the music in that scene before, though I had heard before its use there. It was interesting reading about Sia on Wiki just now- she had writing credits for "Diamonds" by Rhianna, and "Titanium" by David Guetta- both songs I like a lot, which is fairly uncommon for pop music made in the last 20 years.

traditionalguy said...

Traveling is not for everyone. But the few of us who enjoy it can’t get enough of it. The only complaint is the airport experience has become a torture event thanks to who ever did the 9/11 demolition to New York City 18 years ago for profit.

I bet DJT will bring them to justice soon.

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said... "The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird." Is she just talking about hotels..

I think she's talking about the endless moving from one artificial environment to another--the hotel, the car, the theatre, isolated from nature. You may as well be in space.

I don't quite get the lizard. Maybe all the artificiality makes her feel cold-blooded (but not in the violent sense--thus a lizard and not an alligator).

Wolverine I get. Wild and intense--I can see that in a touring company.

Michael K said...

they're really just as stuck inside during the long summer as we are during the long winter.

80 degrees yesterday and 79 today in Tucson. It gets hot in June but the monsoon comes late in July and we often travel during the hot month. I set the AC at 80 and it has not gone on in a week. You do get used to hot weather. If it is below 75, it feels cool.

Ann Althouse said...

"And if it's hotels, doesn't she control the thermostat?"

You clearly don't have the level of sensitivity to air that I have and that I imagine she's talking about. Air conditioning is weird for all kinds of reasons, even when you can pick the temperature you want. The air feels artificial. It can feel too hot and too cold at the same time. It isn't refreshing and life-giving. It's artificial and sealed off from nature. It's not just about temperature either. It's about movement of air and the sound. Compare a bedroom at home with the windows open. The flow is gentle. There's usually no sound to the air flow, certainly no machine cranking away. Natural air temperature changes through the night, cooling down. And there's humidity too. And air conditioner just strips out the moisture. The natural air has a softness and life-giving quality to it that you feel deprived of in a hotel. Often in a hotel, you don't even have the option to open the window, and you want to turn the AC off just to have quiet, and then you put up with the room gradually heating up (instead of cooling down, which is what usually happens at home with the window open).

This made me wonder where Sia came from. The answer is Adelaide (Australia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide#Climate:

"Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate... with warm to hot dry summers and cool to mild winters and with most precipitation falling in the winter months, leading to the suggestion that the climate be classified as a "cold monsoon". ... Adelaide is a windy city with significant wind chill in winter, which makes the temperature seem colder than it actually is. Snowfall in the metropolitan area is extremely uncommon, although light and sporadic falls in the nearby hills and at Mount Lofty occur during winter. Dewpoints in the summer typically range from 8 to 10 °C (46 to 50 °F). There are usually two to three days in summer where the temperature reaches 39.0 °C (102.2 °F) or above, although the frequency of these temperatures has been increasing in recent years."

rehajm said...

Farmer has it. Singers do hate air conditioning...

J. Farmer said...

The air feels artificial. It can feel too hot and too cold at the same time. It isn't refreshing and life-giving. It's artificial and sealed off from nature.

Wow. You're right. I do not have that level of sensitivity to air. And it takes me about two seconds to ignore an air handler. Not sure if this makes me one of the blessed or cursed.

daskol said...

Evocative language showing her internal, metaphor-driven mental shorthand. Lizard--inhuman, inhumane, not even mammalian. As far from human as you can get before you get to plants. To paraphrase, I can't stand the way she sings, but I love to hear her talk.

daskol said...

Insomnia in a hotel room is a truly wretched state.

Mark O said...

The first episode of Six Feet Under was extraordinary. Then, it got weird.

Infinite Monkeys said...

And I am probably one of the few (apparently masochistic) people who still love airports and flying.

I love flying, especially if I have a window seat. Some of my earliest memories are of my father taking me flying. I preferred airports pre-TSA when family or friends could come to the gate to see you off or greet you.

Bill Peschel said...

AC is weird in a hotel. I dislike it (except when it's too hot, then I love it). I'd much rather open a window. But I'm not as temperature sensitive as my wife. Her body shifts from too hot to too cold, and I have to adjust to her needs.

Fortunately, it's May in Hershey, and the temperature is perfect. We can leave the windows open all day. It gets a little cold at night, but we don't have to turn the furnace on, and by next afternoon we have a good balance.

She found the best place for her is Hawaii, where the temperature is perfect for her year-round, but I'm gonna have to write some best-sellers for us to go there (especially if you buy them through Althouse's Amazon portal).

J. Farmer said...

@Bill Peschel:

Perhaps it is more common with the fairer sex. Back when I worked in more traditional office settings, female employees invariably complained about the thermostat. Pretty sure Ann blogged about it not too long ago. Something about the differing metabolic rates of men and women.

J. Farmer said...

p.s. Yep. Found it by following her "cold" tag:

[T]he temperature setting in most workplaces is calibrated to men’s metabolic rates, so women are often uncomfortably cold...

rcocean said...

Yeah, the worst part of traveling in Las Vegas or other super-hot places in the summer is you either bake in heat outside or you freeze indoors in a hotel with AC going full blast.

I'd rather travel in the winter where its super-cold. At least you can put clothes on, and go outside. And staying indoors when its cold is pleasant.

rcocean said...

As women. They're born complainers. Its always too hot or too cold. Every female dominated office has a war over the temperature.

Men just live with it.

rcocean said...

"The air feels artificial. It can feel too hot and too cold at the same time. It isn't refreshing and life-giving. It's artificial and sealed off from nature."

I wish I'd read this first, before writing. Yeah that is EXACTLY what's wrong. Its no doubt changed, but I've been in hotels in Asia that did NOT have A/C but had those huge Fans overhead swirling around. It didn't keep it 72 degrees, but it was so much more pleasant because it wasn't artificial air.

Phil 314 said...

Watched the 6 feet under video (never watched the show except for snippets).

I've driven that road

And I guess metaphorically I'm driving that road right now.

Phil 314 said...

PS One long meditation on this is the movie "A Ghost Story"

Marcus said...

We people in South Florida enjoy the artificial air now that summer has arrived with a blast of sun, humidity not that far behind. We had several months of windows-open tranquility but AC was invented for a reason.

THEOLDMAN

There is a great episode of Corner Gas where Brent's parents get a new thermostat where they can see the actual temperature that it is set at and the two-degree difference between their comfort levels is hilarious.

Ken B said...

That show got irritating looooong before the final season. I stopped watching in season 3 but stopped enjoying it sometime in season 2.

Like Farmer I love air conditioning.

Ken B said...

Yancey Ward
It would take a heart of steel to read the death of Little Nell and not laugh.

That clip looks maudlin.

Oso Negro said...

I live most of my life on the road. Traveling isn’t good or bad to me, it just is. I am a lifetime Star Alliance Gold flyer, I am a lifetime Hilton Diamond member. I even bought Hilton beds for my house for a consistent night of sleep. Air conditioning does cause problems. There are neighborhoods on the other side of the world where I am more likely to be recognized on the street than my nominal hometown. The regular communities I enjoy are online and this blog is one of them. It’s a choice to live this way, but it frees me from having a regular job, which I have avoided for the past 16 years. I suspect I will do it as long as I can talk and travel. I will probably eventually settle down somewhere overseas. Perhaps I have an Odysseus Complex.