Today’s Song: How We Use a Name in Mathew Lee Cothran’s “Naomi Y”

my first love mends my final days - mathew lee cothran
An investigative search through the many struggles which fill out lives, Mathew Lee Cothran’s “Naomi Y” gives us a name and direction to navigate and discover the answers hidden under our noses.

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To give a name means to give validity. It is easy to surround noise and catharsis with neutral pronouns. But to give a name, a cheat is open, and with it a set of ideas and realities. It is an allowance and because of that, it can be spent accordingly with each listen, each bit of empathy constructed, each orchestral movement of the emotional mind.

“naomi y” is the opening track to the latest album by Mathew Lee Cothran (Elvis Depressedly / formerly Coma Cinema), my first love mends my final days (independently released July 27, 2018). The musicality of it is nostalgic and dipped in musings of synthwave and techno. A repeating crescendo of notes layers behind keys and a duet of singers matching words in different octaves. As an opener to an album that is more isolating and quiet, it begs the question of why start with this. “naomi y” is a tone setter. The song in short is one of struggle, looking for resolution in questions that have no answers. The tracks following deal with introspection and revolve around the word repeated so often in this opener: Why?

diamonds shatter at your will
but your heart breaks against the glass
clench your teeth to cage a misery
live like a fire in the dark, live like an effigy
Listen: “Naomi Y” – Mathew Lee Cothran


Starting with a you, “Naomi Y” moves through the rough edges of unforgiving anger and frustration. It looks to dodge the array of shards scattered by the unknown cause and effect that faces everyone; it looks for the answers to mend an angry and beaten soul tired from the struggle, or rather any struggle. To feel worn and old, looking for some light to be a guide.

why naomi?
why naomi why?
my first love mends my final days - mathew lee cothran

my first love mends my final days – mathew lee cothran

An easy way to present this is to keep the you isolated throughout the song, and bleeding into the rest of the album. The you can grow to an ‘I’ or a ‘he’ and ‘she’, but there is still this ambiguity that leaves those pronouns to be filled in by the listener’s imagination. Even allowing them to put themselves in that spot. But, in doing this, in leaving the ambiguous you stationary, the allowance an artists gives seems cheap. It’s a catch-all. And this is important…sometimes. Cothran, however, gives you a name: “naomi,” and because we have this name, it builds a limit; it withholds our imagination. So when we move into the second verse and we hear that you again, it is now attached to “naomi.”

endlessly days carry on
you begin and end them all alone
secret wounds breathing deep
never allowed to come apart,
never allowed anything

The question to ask now is, does giving the name distance the listener? Does it disenchant a song that already drips of mental solitude and dreamlike, wavy sounds? No. Cothran is creating a space that enables the listener to focus their search on a single entity. In doing so, it opens the mind to begin looking for the right questions, ones that have answers. A name is able to carry the burden for a little while, and give us a minute to breathe.

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:: stream/purchase first love mends…. here ::

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my first love mends my final days - mathew lee cothran

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:: Mathew Lee Cothran ::