"most of my lyrics on sites like genius r wrong, but I'm too lazy to edit them; pls just assume they're what you needed to hear. happy holidays" -@mitskileaks

My phone has very limited storage. It seems like no matter what I do, it remains on the brink of being full. What happens when the storage is full? Who knows? Maybe that's what caused Cee-Lo's phone to blow up. All I know is that I can only keep a handful of songs downloaded on my phone.

So, that's how I ended up travelling through India and Indonesia with a grand total of one album to listen to. It felt like when I was a kid, and the only CD I had was the Shrek soundtrack (which I will ride for until eternity). Fortunately, that album, Mitski's Puberty 2, was/is a great album. And so, surrounded by temples, monks, and the like, most of the wisdom I encountered was in the back of sweaty buses listening to Mitski belt koans through my headphones. Peep some of these bars:

"I'm not doing anything/I'm not doing anything/My body's made of crushed little stars/And I'm not doing anything"

"And then one summer night/I'll hear the fireworks outside and listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry"

"I bet on losing dogs/I always want you when I'm finally fine"

"I am a forest fire/And I am the fire and I am the forest/And I am a witness watching it"

When I listen to good music, I want to write about it, hence these being words here, on your screen, by me. And after a month of listening to one great album, I certainly wanted to write about it. But I keep returning to that tweet (if I'm a big Mitski music fan, I may be a bigger Mitski Twitter fan. She's a master of the form). "pls just assume they're what you needed to hear." There's something generous, and brave, about giving up the definition of your own work to your audience. And it also points to a fissure in the foundation of writing, in general, and about music.

What purpose does music writing serve? Who am I to define the experience of listening to music for someone else? Could I be limiting other's listening experiences should they read my writing, my words shaping what they hear? Am I overthinking this?

Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts discusses the anxiety of writing, naming, and defining. The book's title stems from a passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes that compares the ship the Argo to the phrase "I love you"; the Argo retains its name as its parts are replaced, much as the meaning of "I love you" changes in meaning each time it is spoken. If words are static structures, their meanings are dynamic, fluid.

And perhaps this came to mind with Mitski because while her lyrics can feel so solid and clear, I can always feel an undercurrent of movement, a sort of promise that they may mean something different the next time I listen to them. She seems acutely aware of the malleability of her own words, and our perception of them. She is the forest fire, the fire, the forest, and the one watching. So are we.

I thought about this when listening to 'Your Best American Girl', the album's most popular song. To be to be an American Girl (or simply to be an American), is a term loaded with its own culturally formed definition, and Mitski's hesitance demonstrates the uncertainty of whether she fits it.

In the chorus she sings (emphasis mine), "Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me/But I do, I think I do/And you're an all-American boy/I guess I couldn't help trying to be your American girl."

Near the end of the song, "I think I do" briefly becomes "I know I do," momentarily reclaiming her background, upbringing, and identity, and in doing so, she diminishes the power of the "American girl" label. Its structure is static, but its meaning is fluid, even disposable.

However, it's also worth noting that the song ends by reverting back to "I think I do." This is the power institutions can exert through naming and defining, particularly on those who may not fit those names and definitions. These oppressed people constantly feel the pressure to doubt and alter themselves, to become static within the structures of names that imprison them.

But Mitski demonstrates that words can be home to multiple meanings, offering possibility and compassion, to allow listeners to interpret as they like. So I guess, maybe, music writing should simply be an encouragement to do that. Listen to Mitski, and other good music. Think about it, enjoy it. Don't take my word for it.

You can check out Mistki at the following dates over the coming months:

Tues. February 28 - Berlin, DE @ Postbahnhof #
Thur. March 2 - Utrecht, NL @ Ekko #
Fri. March 3 - Brussels, DE @ Rotonde, Botanique #
Sat. March 4 - Brighton, UK @ The Haunt #
Mon. March 6 - London, UK @ Village Underground #
Tues. March 7 - Bristol, UK @ Thekla #
Thur. March 9 - Manchester, UK @ The Ruby Lounge #
Fri. March 10 - Edinburgh, UK @ Electric Circus #
Sat. March 11 - Newcastle, UK @ The Cluny #
Fri. April 7 - Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore Cabaret *
Sat. April 8 - Seattle, WA @ The Neptune *
Sun. April 9 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom *
Tues. April 11 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s *
Wed. April 12 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium *
Thur. April 13 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore *
Sat. April 15 - Indio, CA @ Coachella
Sat. April 22 - Indio, CA @ Coachella
Sat. April 29 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Fri. June 2 - Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
Sat. June 8-10 - Porto, PT @ NOS Primavera Sound
Sun. June 16-18 - Mannheim, DE @ Maified Derby Festival
Sat. July 29 - New York, NY @ Panorama

# = w/ Personal Best
* = w/ Kadhja Bonet and Mal Devisa