Songs in the Key of Asperger’s

by dpreyde

These aren’t songs which are explicitly, deliberately about autism, because there don’t seem to be any of those. Which is puzzling, because a lot of Aspies are musicians. These five songs reflect my personal experience with Asperger’s, and my interactions with the non-autistic.

Let Your Yeah Be Yeah

(The Pioneers)

This one’s all about the necessity of direct, clear communication, and how frustrating subtext can be. It eloquently and soulfully expresses the tremendous exasperation I feel sometimes when dealing with neurotypicals and all their bullshit.

Most autistic line: “I’m on my guard and I’m watching you from head to toe.”

Life Is a Rock But the Radio Rolled Me

(Reunion)

This might not seem particularly autistic until you describe the song out loud: It is a monotone, encyclopedic recitation of an enormous list of rock and roll musicians whom the singer finds particularly interesting or meaningful. That is so. Fucking. Autistic. Better still, the song captures the joyful giddiness which comes with being utterly caught up in an autistic special interest. I know special interests are hard for neurotypicals to understand; this might give you a glimpse into what they’re like.

Most autistic line: “Can’t stop now, I got the shivers.”

Quiet

(Tim Minchin)

Sensory meltdowns are hard to explain because they’re so fucking messy, and it’s hard to take note of what’s happening to your body and inside your head while you feel like your soul is on fire and being beaten with splintery boards. Anyway, this song is a beautiful description of what a meltdown feels like. It also contains a startingly accurate description of the consistently happy, verdant land of Aspergia, which we all try to escape to when the muchness of the world becomes too much.

Most autistic line: “I’m sorry, I’m not quite explaining it right, but this noise becomes anger and the anger is light.”

Grace Kelly

(Mika)

This song really only applies to high functioning Aspies, who have the capacity to pull off the whole chameleon thing. My ability to change myself at will to reflect what people want to see has really complicated my life, and I know it’s led to serious mental health problems in some of the Aspies I know. But there’s an exhilarating freedom in the ability to pull it off, which the song captures nicely. For one thing, it took so long for me to learn how to do, and such an awful lot of trial and error. Secondly, I feel untethered compared to a lot of neurotypicals. I’m always reading social situations in order to analyze them and pick them apart and figure out the dynamics and expectations, which allows me to see through the bullshit. Neurotypicals don’t seem to have that ability, because they haven’t had to develop it in order to survive. But God, it’s exhausting. I don’t do it as often as I used to, because after awhile I just wanted to be real around real people. The sad thing is, how rare genuineness really is.

Most autistic line: “I could be hurtful, I could be purple, I could be anything you like.”

Oh! You Pretty Things

(David Bowie)

This was probably written about the counterculture scene in the early ‘70s, or possibly the queer community. But I find it makes a rousing autistic anthem, just like the non-autistic David Bowie makes a splendid autistic icon. Bowie is known for being the freakiest freak, the most outside of outsiders, and a lot of folks on the spectrum- including myself- feel the same way. He also has the autistic ability to constantly change himself and bedevil expectations. This song is about how normal people don’t have a chance, because the freaks and outlaws are going to take over. Preach, brother.

Most autistic line: “All the strangers came today, and it looks as though they’re here to stay.”

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