Engine Driver :: The Decemberists

The Decemberists albums play like a stack of storybooks to me, and I’m always so drawn to the plot within the melody, the story within the song.

I often want to drive around for hours, no where in particular, listening to songs like this one. I would let my mind wander while the miles go by; the markers of neon and soon forgotten street names, burger joints and bars, all of them becoming part of the landscape as it changes, as it moves on. All of it to fade and become a brush stroke in my memories.

Other times I want to sit with blank pages in front of me, playing this song over and over, bringing to life the characters I see and hear in this song.

This song brings to life something like this, for me:

Music was the way Gram had met both Trixie and Mush; well, music and drugs, but music was the true connection that had started, and continued, their friendship. It was also what had sealed the deal between the two of them as a couple, and what kept them going through changes and the obstacles that life slings at people as they go along living.

Gram always knew their paths would cross again, even though it had been years between and the letters had long ceased their arrival in his post box. The last had been a postcard from some nameless beach city out on the west coast; the wish you were here variety with the predictable panoramic sunset and sand shot, the unmistakable scratch of nearly indiscernible pen markings making it clear who it was from even before he read the MT at the bottom. Long ago they’d stopped signing their names individually to him, even though he’d known each of them at different times, separately, and then later as a together. After awhile the lines between them blurred to him as well, one never far from the other, Mush and Trixie becoming slurred into one name, one word, and then simply into two bold letters.

He had held onto all of them, the long drug fueled letters from their first trip to New Orleans, the paintings with small printed notes on the back from Trixie’s studio in Soho, wrinkled napkins with sketched notions of tattoos stuffed in brown paper envelopes with ever-changing postmarks, along with matchbooks from various restaurants and bars, and of course mixes of music. Mush always sent tapes, a diehard believer that a true mix can only be made on a cassette; the time and skill required he claimed was where the art resided, all part and parcel with the telltale whir from the tape spooling from red to black, before the first chords of a song begin, and you are moved to push record. Trixie differed in opinion, and would hold strong to the counter argument that a mix CD required just as much, if not more, care and finesse to produce the final piece of musical creation, the smooth transitions from song to song being her preferred form of aural expression, thus packages from her often included a CD for him (often with similar song choices to Mush’s tapes, as they were ever devoted melodic soul twins).

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