Houston in Two Seconds is a piece of music. It is instrumental, consisting solely of Ry Cooder on slide guitar - and, I think, a steel one at that. It is roughly two minutes and three seconds long.

That's about all I can say about what it is.

It can be found on the soundtrack to the movie Paris, Texas. I haven't seen that movie in forever, and I won't even bother talking about the song as it relates to the movie, because my entire experience with it has been as audio only.

I don't know enough about music to say technical and correct things about the track, so I won't bother with that either.

I will mention a passage that William Gibson wrote, once, in which he describes a wavering forlorn radio signal coming in over a postmodern dystopic American southwest carrying nothing but steel guitar in the interstices of the radio spectrum. Steel guitar drawn out like an ache.

That's what this track is. It's an ache, drawn out into a couple minutes of length, and its intricacies spun out into whorls of pain painting with audio. Just like real pain, some small part of it, if you magnify it fractally, is pleasure; there are major chord resolutions in there, one small attosecond from reaching happiness, before the tone wavers under the slide back to minor and the music pulls you back down into melancholy.


It's not depression. It's not sadness. It's something more cool and distant.

This song will pull you into melancholy, and hold you there. It'll bounce you off the low, off the high side of sadness; then it'll sling you up to the high, the low side of joy, before roping you back into the middle of melancholic twiddling. Perhaps it's just because I'm depressed that this is a place that attracts me - all I can say is that I find it restful, akin to that first moment of a hug when you rest your cheek against the still-cool fabric of someone's jacket, neutral against the skin but still smelling of them, and wish you could stay there forever in quiet detached comfort.

I have no idea what the title means. Perhaps the movie would tell me.

TheDeadGuy reminds me that the movie climaxes and ends in Houston, which makes perfect sense. I'm still stuck on the exact parsing of the title, though.

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