“I was in love with the place,
in my mind,
in my mind.
I made a lot of mistakes,
in my mind,
in my mind.”
This song has such personal history and memories attached to it, for me, and no matter when I happen upon it, and no matter where I may be, I have to pause to listen, and remember.
Some of the recollections are candy-coated postcards full of wish you were here sentimentalities, and lipstick traces left on cool skin. There are photo booths and train stops, half-drunk promises of things like love and forever, and an image of a girl and boy playing at being something together.
I close my eyes and listen, and between the verses I see that coat I found right before my second trip, the one that reminded us of Penny Lane, the one that helped to inspire all those scrawled notes about really falling in love with a band (and all those half-schemed dreams to follow the music down highways, and anywhere towns – to run away, together).
I lost it at the airport, that coat. I walked away for a moment, turned my head, and it was gone (in a way, that same day, so were we).
Then there are the darker alleyway shadows, stray-cat scratches and tear-stained cheek kind of moments this song brings to mind. Mistakes realized nearly too late, clinic waiting rooms, losses and plane tickets, and goodbyes that should have precluded any hellos.
All of it, and none of it, and whatever falls in-between – somehow that city played its part in it all; and, locked in some harmonic memory, this song about that city.
Certain songs they stay with us forever. They affix themselves onto our hearts, swim sideways through our veins, and become part of the make-up of who we think ourselves to be. We collect soundtracks all our own, re-writing the order as we go, and the meaning. And, sometimes we forget things, some pages of our stories blur and fade, but often – at least for me – a song can bring it all back.
Certain songs last longer than lovers, than apartment leases, than dreams…this will forever be one of those songs.
“Chicago is a city of contradictions, of private visions haphazardly overlaid and linked together. If the city was unhappy with itself yesterday-and invariably it was-it will reinvent itself today.”
~ Pat Colander “A Metropolis of No Little Plans”
Chicago :: Sufjan Stevens