Laid (1993) :: James

There are certain albums that have left memory marks on my skin and my soul that at times are a joy to listen to, and at times leave me in a state of despair. These are emotionally rich trigger-loaded songs that are part of the complexly woven stories of my early twenties, in the early nineties, a time that was rife with falling apart and coming back together. This album came about during a passionate chance meeting that turned into a tumultuous decade long love affair, which had a rather tragic end long after the actual love ceased to exist.

The ending is not the memories this album elicits, no, it is a collection of songs from the beginning, perhaps that is part and parcel to why the memories recalled are both beautiful and painful, as is often the look back at the “once upon a time” of  a doomed love story. Ever story has a start, and this is part of the soundtrack from the start of one of my stories, and also an album that will always be a favorite of mine. Following are the songs as they play on the album, with my three-sentence reflections…push play and I hope you enjoy.

Out To Get You

Starting out with the most painful of the bunch, the song most loaded with recollections, so vivid that all my senses are alight, drunk on remembering. This song is part of my muscle memory, I feel it in my veins, and in the exhale and inhale of my lungs. Hearing this I can feel your arms around me, your one leg swung over my body, the window open, the scent of salty ocean air wafting over us as we started to wake.



The sudden Summer rains came and went, leaving a sticky-sweet feel to the air that left my skin constantly wet (not that I was not feeling that way, with you then, anyway). It was a week of escape, of no consequences, a delayed reality of you and I. We sat out on the balcony and watched the weather dance in manic patterns, painting the sky in varying shades of color and light.


Dream Thrum

You were always quick to blame me for your failings and fallings, ever pointing your heart at me saying I pulled and tugged and stole it away. Looking back, my dear, it feels more like a rough game of tug-o-war that went on, a chaotic call and response, and we played along, willingly, both of us. I wanted it all just as much as you did, in the beginning.


One of the Three

She came with me, all big eyes and bows in her hair, because I wanted to see if we could turn this into some kind of a family. Truth is, a part of me planned to never return back home. I did, though, you let me go, never once saying “stop and stay“.


Say Something

You stood at the end of the dock gazing out to sea, avoiding a conversation, delaying our goodbyes. I watched from the back door, the bed sheet wrapped twice around me, willing you to turn around and come back to bed, come back to me. Neither of us spoke, silence so loud it was deafening, so intense it brought on a new batch of rain.



In the early morning of my third day in your arms you whispered a proposal that I pretended to not hear. The truth is it was too much, too soon, and you knew it, too. It would be years until you spoke it again, out loud this time, in front of me with both of our eyes wide open, impossible to pretend to ignore.



When we had no words we got into the car and drove. There was only one road in, and one way back out, so we just kept going until we had to turn right round (again). This song stuck, making the lines, the lyrics, repeat, as the tape tangled in the car’s player.


Everybody Knows

Back “home” everyone knew what had happened, or at least a version of the truth, but here, by the ocean, we could re-write our stories. You took to calling me a variety of nicknames, and I responded by calling you My Sailor. For what may have been the shortest of times we created a new kind of hope, together.


Knuckle Too Far

Some songs they fade into the background, floating and flicking like the spark and fire of the tip of a candle. You traced secrets on my skin and left tiny marks in hidden places. They were a wish you would come back here souvenirs to bring back along with me.


Low Low Low

There was that bar with the giant mermaid statue outside. They had the worst jukebox I have ever seen/heard, but they poured generous drinks and the bartender told the best inappropriate jokes. He took a snapshot of you and I, tacked it up behind the bar, and I catch myself wondering sometimes if it is still there, existing without us.



I can hear your voice singing this one to me, in the shower, in the car, while we both jumped up and down on the bed, and while we ran across the sand near enough to feel the tide kiss our bare feet. You would always sing “oh, you think your so pretty” and we both would laugh. Some nights you would add to it, kissing me softly, whispering “I do think you are so pretty.”



My favorite on the album, though I could only find a live version on YouTube. We were both so bruised and broken, coming from a family tree with rotting, falling to pieces branches. We were ever trying to heal each other, pasting bandages and kisses, and promises for a better life – but we were so damaged that it often seemed a too far away dream.



We drove away with you still standing on the dock. I let myself stay angry so the tears would not fall. Your image, reflected in the water, your back turned from me, faded away in the rear view mirror, slowly but surely.


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