A Deep Longing, Lost Somewhere in the Sea | “(They Call Me) Jimmy” by Tim Hecker


Mike Merucci, Writer/Volunteer

The sirens of Greek mythology would enchant sailors with their beautiful songs, forcing them to forget all tasks and cares, luring them to a shipwrecked death. At the feet of these otherworldly creatures piled an island’s worth of bones, bones which decayed under the weight of a venomous mirage endlessly creeping through ocean mists, cool breezes and deep blue waves. 

Tim Hecker’s 2003 ambient album Radio Amor lives in the sea and all its mystery. It is especially fascinated with the journey across — through the soundscapes and track titles emerge the ships, the navigation and the strange longing that can only enter one’s heart when absorbing salty evening winds and the paralyzing wonder of seemingly infinite waves. 

The most siren-like, most representative track of the ocean’s indescribable allure is “(They Call Me) Jimmy,” a light, glittering drone that is so deceptively simple in its wave-like crests and troughs. It repeatedly cradles the heart up and down, up and down, up and down, allowing it to float aimlessly through a sepia mist born of Radio Amor’s cover. This is a mist of memory, of longing, of unobstructed reflection— ending up off-course and tranquilized among these siren calls is a real danger. But this is a danger that should be welcomed. These swirling, quiet calls of the deep won’t lead to piles of bones on the shoreline or wrecked ships jutting out from the coast; they will lead to calm, cool sands and a view over that unfathomable mass of memory, longing and reflection contained only by the stretching horizon. To land safely on an island in one’s own mind is beautiful. 

Though this track carries much of the ocean’s winding mystique, it’s not essential to hold onto that particular landscape in order to achieve a lasting friendship with all the sounds and emotions that gently rumble throughout its five-minute, easily re-playable frame. These sirens call out from the alleys and rooftops of the city, from the treetops and dens of the forest, from the canyons and plateaus of the desert. They call to the tired, to the awake, to the depressed, to the content — for all, their drone soothes. There is no malice from these sirens, no trickery. To be lost in this cloud is to be at home.