I can see by her eyes she’s been waiting
Nineteen is the year I seem to revisit most often. It was the year that I found things, lost things and began to carve out a “me” from things outside of my upbringing, things that didn’t come from book pages or classroom settings, nor from anything I perceived as “expected” of me.
I used to wander aimlessly through Fullerton College, the junior college I went to just out of high school. With my eyes slightly glazed over, I would turn in another paper, memorize a new monologue, or switch out the mandatory math tutorial tapes for cassettes of The Cure and Suzanne Vega’s Solitude Standing.
It was me and “Luka” in those math labs, and sometimes “Charlotte“ as I scribbled numbers and graphs into workbook pages.
Those afternoons felt like a slow-moving purgatory. They kept me a prisoner of my own design until the buzzer would ring, classes ended for the day, and I would walk zombie-like to my Honda Civic.
I never named that little red car, though she meant everything to me. She was my first. My confidante most days. My partner in crime. Sometimes the two of us would skip classes and study labs all together – my car and me – driving to the beach and parking for hours by the sand.
I rarely got out. No, at the time I preferred to roll the windows all the way down, recline the driver’s seat as far as it would go, leaving the keys at half-mast so the music could still play. The Cure’s “Lovecats” meowing me into an afternoon nap.
The three boys who had been my sanity in high school called me up one night, in the early part of my nineteenth year. They’d been spending most evenings in Hollywood and were determined to get me to come along.
I’d pulled a disappearing act since high school had ended. Two days a week taking classes, and every other day I worked in the mall, at Jay Jacobs.
I wasn’t sure what I was doing, where I was headed, or who I was. I was just going through the motions, numb to most everything.
Back in high school, we’d all obtained identities, even if we didn’t choose them. We were part of groups, or we were excluded from groups, our identity the accusation, or the solution.
But now, well, no one put me anywhere. No one knew me as anything except “the girl behind the counter”, or “the girl cleaning out a dressing room”, “or the girl who did a Carrie Fisher book excerpt for her first monologue”.
I was becoming “Solitude Standing”, staring out windows, or rolling them down to let the salty air in. Squinting at my reflection in the dressing room mirrors wondering who I was becoming.
Was I becoming anything at all?
I was lost.
I was waiting for something.
“Solitude Standing” by Suzanne Vega
from the album, Solitude Standing (1987)
My best friend from Senior year was still in school. She had plans to move out as soon as she could, and asked me, over and over, why I hadn’t left home myself. My mother was more lost that I was then, staying out late with her friends, calling to have me pick her up from random locations. I’d find her some mornings standing in an apartment complex parking lot, last night’s heels in her hand, looking like she didn’t know who she was either.
Feeling lost has no age limit.
I had lost my role as a daughter, trading it in for a makeshift caretaker and hall monitor for her, and a surrogate parent for my little brother.
We were all still shattered by what had happened the year before. Still stumbling around like a family of zombies; infected, actually dead, but not yet aware of it.
Those three boys, they saved me again, just like they’d done during that nightmare of a year. It was that phone call – their invitation that they wouldn’t let me refuse – that would end up defining nineteen. My nineteen.
I climbed in the backseat.
They handed me a bottle of Strawberry Boones Farm, one dollar a bottle.
It tasted like Jolly Ranchers with a bite.
I took swig after swig while “Shake the Disease” played on the car stereo. I was wearing new shoes and as we drove I could feel the not broken in faux leather stiff and restrictive, causing my toes to sting.
I just took another drink straight from the bottle, one of the three taking my hand in his in the backseat.
The boy who was driving caught my eye in the rearview mirror and winked. He then proclaimed to the car, and everyone in it, that we should kiss Marilyn before going to Ground Zero.
“Lore, you’re wearing just the right shade of red.”
None of it made sense, not yet, but all of it sounded amazing.
I felt the alcohol buzzing in my head and the throb in my toes, and something more. I felt like I was finally waking up.
I never took that trip
My Grandfather was a gypsy. Well, not really. He was a welder. Born in Mexico City, though he’d spend his life denying it due to the bigotry and racism he encountered being from “across the border” and living in Los Angeles, in the ’40s. He told everyone he was born in Spain, that he was European, changing his last name, and marrying a girl that was first generation American. Her family actual European immigrants, coming from Denmark and Germany. My Grandfather had an infectious laugh, a love of big band music and Mariachi, and of the long and winding road. He would drive anywhere. All you had to say was “let’s go”. He managed to make any holiday an excuse to pack up the van, or the RV and set off to discover someplace new.
My Grandmother was more of the home and hearth type. She didn’t enjoy life on the road, though she always came along for the ride, often sitting in the farthest backspace, complaining about the twists and turns, the heights on travels that took us up mountains and cliff sides, often threatening to get out of the vehicle and walk back home. Looking back, I wonder if she protested too much. If there was something more to the bickering and heated words between them, barbed pointy things that would come out while he kept driving. Did she enjoy the fighting? The complaining? Or was there resentment between them that I will never know?
Maybe she secretly loved the trips and travel.
Or maybe I just want to believe that because I find it so hard to fathom why she wouldn’t love every minute of it. I know I did.
My Grandfather let me ride shotgun. He gave me the job of the navigator, of opening the complicated folds of the map that were far too big for my small arms to outstretch completely. The job included being an eagle eye to all things interesting, to point out roadside attractions, and search and find the best places to stop for a meal, or a soft serve ice cream cone. I quickly learned that the smaller, unassuming diners were usually the best choice and that a story can be crafted out of just about anything you set your mind to. We used to be the only ones still awake and talking, as we rolled through the desert in the middle of the night, building on stories one or the other would start, inspired from a lone, misshapen cactus, or a counter clerk with an unusual laugh who rang us up a full tank of gas and glass bottles of Coca Cola.
My Grandfather taught me the love of the road, and of telling stories. In many ways, he helped shape the writer in me. I know when my restlessness hits the first thing I long for is to just hit the road and go. Sometimes its a weakness in me, a lack of desire to stay in one place for too long, my commitment issues to anything and anyone beyond my children. At times, though, I think it is one of my finest strengths, as it has made me flexible, adaptable, and capable to start over – and capable of knowing (and believing) that starting over is always an option. It has saved my life before in more ways than I care to express today. It may very well save my life again.
I know that I see the world differently because of my Grandfather. That I see possibilities and histories and stories to tell in everyone I come across, and how I’m often burning to tell them or write them all down. I know that my gypsy soul and the writer that I am is more than partially due to him, and I wish sometimes that I could travel back in time and tell him just how much he meant to me, and how much he has made me the woman that I am – a writer, a traveler, a gypsy, a survivor, a lover of change, and of the road itself.
“Graceland” by Charlie Sexton
from the True Romance Soundtrack (1995)
The Morning After
“It’s been three months since she last picked me up. Three. It was April. Late April, I think. It wasn’t raining though.” musicforthemorningafter murmurs to himself, leaning his vinyl frame to the left, his soft tones trying to shutter up hurt like an unwanted, too sunny morning.
It’s midnight though, with no sun to speak of. Instead, there’s rain, a lot of it, three days and four nights of it, despite the cliché that it never rains in Southern California.
“Hey, I’m not a cliché!” It Never Rains in Southern California interjects, reacting defensively from the right side of the crate. Insulted.
musicforthemorningafter doesn’t respond, or maybe he just doesn’t hear It Never Rains in Southern California, at all. He’s too busy fixating on her. On the lack of her. On how long it’s been since he’s seen her.
For years he’d held claim to her heart. He’d been loved like that childhood stuffed bunny with the torn ear and worn patches. He’d been held close like a lover whose meant to stay the course and played much more than often. It seemed like they were “meant to be”, another over-used cliché, yes, but one musicforthemorningafter couldn’t help believe in. He thought she’d keep spinning him until he was old and worn out. Until he couldn’t play any longer.
All the others in the green milk crates envied him. They fall all over each other, whispering, conspiring, pointing out all his flaws.
“Track six is trite. Repetitive,” Tidal says, stroking her long, straight hair and wrapping invisible arms around all her emotional depth.
“That fifth song always makes her cry. I never make her cry. Never, never ever.” London Calling brags, holding himself up straighter, chin jutting defiantly, fist-raising, vying to be the tallest in the row.
“Love is fleeting. You should know that by now,” Substance says, sorrowfully singing how love tears them all apart.
“You never were all that,” Rio says smugly. “She was mine in her awkward years. She left lipstick marks on me. Daily. Played me while she touched herself, pretending it was me. None of you will ever have fifteen and sixteen. I was her first.”
It had all happened so suddenly, musicforthemorningafter thought. He’d been her early mornings, her long afternoons, her off-to-dreamland lullabies. He’d seen her through two lovers, one failed marriage, and a six-month stint of self-imposed isolation.
She’d had two hair colors, one car crash (well, one and a half), three jobs, and one rent-controlled apartment since they’d met – all with his songs as her soundtrack.
Sure, she’d had flirtations with others in the crate. Some were best when she’d had too much to drink. Another set was just right when she wanted to wail and thrash her body around the room, crashing her right knee on the coffee table’s edge, or falling hard just to get back up again. Two were for tears, another for disappointment, and that one she hardly grabs for, she was meant for shame and sorrow. Afterward, though, she’d stash them all back in the crate, especially that latter one. I mean no one wants to replay their low points too soon.
Afterward, she’d always reach back in again – for him.
His songs crossed boundaries and moods. They could weave through almost all her good and bad days. He fit right into nearly all her “somethings”. She knew all his words, sang-a-long to each and every song, wrote them down in bound notebooks, and even had one from that so-called “trite” track tattooed on the inside of her left arm.
Take that, Tidal.
But something has changed. Something big.
It feels like she’s gone.
He has no one to talk to about it though. All those years as her beloved, as her favorite, has isolated him from all the others. Or, maybe he did it to himself. Puffing his chest out, taking up more space than his double-sleeve requires, boasting the scrawled signature across his front side, the fingerprints – her fingerprints – that pattern across his grooves. He’s let it all grow into a self-satisfied smile. He’s let it take him over. He loves being her number one. More than that, he’s felt happy, never needing anyone else’s soft touch, no one else’s but hers. He’ll wait here though. He’ll wait forever if he has to. Poised and ready for her red-lipped pucker, and that slightly out-of-tune voice that is unmistakably hers.
Even on her worst days, she is beautiful to him.
Even on her worst days, he has been who she’s reached for and clung to.
“Maybe you should dye your cover, redecorate, change your style,” Hunky Dory muses. “The universe is full of inspiration, possibility, infinite ways to be.”
“She’ll never love you back,” Songs of Love and Hate says. “I’ve been around a good long time. Been with three other beauties. It always ends. They always break our hearts.”
musicforthemorningafter doesn’t heed the advice or warnings. He brushes off their suggestions and opinions, assuring himself that he is different.
She is different.
But is she?
He traces back the days before this shift, rewinds them like the old cassette relics that came before him. Black Celebration and Purple Rain have told him about those “early days”, how their sonic ancestors had been smaller, their insides visible, and easily torn.
All the others in the crate, they are made to last longer. Their outsides stronger, their internal vulnerabilities nearly impenetrable. Vinyl forever – right?
He can hardly picture what that must have been like. All he’d ever had to contend with were the smaller versions of himself, still circular, but brighter, lighter, and easier to snap in two. She had one of him like that – a CD version – its case was cracked from rolling around in her car’s backseat floor.
He knows she prefers the weight he offers, his raw sound, the turn of each side. She loves to flip him over, and then over again.
Back before April, in those last leading up days, she had started to leave them all alone, sometimes for days on end. She would throw him on before leaving, turning him up loud enough to shake the wall behind where he plays. She’d rush around, manically grabbing at this and that, singing with him the entire time. But more often than not she’d only get through track three before she’d turn him off again. Leaving him face up and naked, lying in wait, his cover abandoned far across the room, open wide on the worn, second-hand couch.
“She’s in love,” The Libertines (self-titled) said, English accent heavy on the ‘ove, as the two symbiotic singers lean in closer to each other, playing at being in love themselves, to illustrate their point.
Is that what this is?
Is that what has happened to her?
But, he’d been there for love before. Twice. Three times maybe. Hadn’t he? They’d come and gone, like pop songs, addictive, sugar-sweet, and hot as hell, until she couldn’t bear them anymore.
He was always there afterward. To cleanse her palate. To sate her after their new smell wore off. Hell, he’d even been part of a few initial seductions. She’d used track two on quite a few “I’m falling for you” playlists, carefully positioning his song on one of those cyclical discs to give the new guy. Once she played his whole first side when she’d brought one of them home.
Whoever this one is he’s never come home with her. She’s never recorded any of his tracks for him. She’s never taken him along with her, either. Not even once.
Weeks have gone by. Dust is starting to settle on his sleeve. Tiny flakes slipping through, threatening to colonize each groove. He tries to shake them off, leaning further to the right side, rubbing against the crate’s hard plastic.
He is starting to lose count of how many days she’s been gone.
The other’s are starting to take notice, too. Silence turning into a kind of fading. The window above them, the one with the broken shade, brings in the hard mid-day sun. One day after another, and another, and another. Soon they will all lose their color, their shape, maybe even their sound.
He can barely remember what her touch feels like.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, he hears her. Feels her as she slides him out from the crate – oh so carefully.
Is he dreaming?
Her hands are cold, damp, shaky. Her eyes are wide and rimmed in red, her skin is a pale pallor except for the lines of inky tears that snake down each cheek. Her breathing sounds labored, ragged, as she breathes in, then out again. musicforthemorningafter wants to say something to her. Tell her how much he’s missed her. Ask her where she’s been. Say “are you okay?”
But they don’t speak the same language. Not in words, at least.
She starts with the last track. “A Girl Like You”. Each line, each lyric, says everything he can’t. She sits as close as she can get to the song, laying him softly in her lap, swaying, and singing-softly-a-long.
More tears come. They slip into each word she sings. And when the track is over she plays it again. Then once more still.
Maybe this is goodbye.
Maybe she’s back…for good.
He doesn’t notice the boxes that show up over the next few days. He doesn’t pay attention to how she packs them, carefully, one-by-one. Shutting them up tightly with thick, clear tape. musicforthemorningafter doesn’t care to notice anything besides the fact that she’s back, that she’s playing him again – a lot. And that the others are all green as the crates themselves. Jealous once again.
He does notice the sun’s warmth when it hits him though. How glaring it is as she holds him close and carries him outside. The heat beats down on him as she lays him gently on a plaid woolen blanket.
The others are here, too. All of them. He sees them starting up into the sun as she picks him up again.
“This was my favorite,” she says, softly.
musicforthemorningafter has no time to consider her words as another set of hands take hold of him. Rougher hands. Much bigger than hers. He has no time to look at her – one last time – before he’s turned over and tucked under an arm.
Songs of Love and Hate’s words echo back in his memory. “She’ll never love you back.”
“I love that one so much, but there’s no room for my records at his place,” she explains. Her voice cracking, “you’ll love it, too.”
He has no time to tell her he’s loved her, too. That he loves her now. That he’ll always love her.
It’s morning. Bright and sunny, with no chance of rain.
Special thanks and credit to the following albums:
musicforthemorningafter by Pete Yorn
It Never Rains In Southern California by Albert Hammond
Tidal by Fiona Apple
London Calling by The Clash
Substance by Joy Divison
Rio by Duran Duran
Hunky Dory by David Bowie
Songs of Love and Hate by Leonard Cohen
Black Celebration by Depeche Mode
Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution
The Libertines (self-titled) by The Libertines
“A Girl Like You” by Pete Yorn
“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Shadowboxer” by Fiona Apple
“The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
“Lonely In Your Nightmare” by Duran Duran
“Changes” by David Bowie
“Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen
“A Question of Lust” by Depeche Mode
“Purple Rain” by Prince and the Revolution
“Music When the Lights Go Out” by The Libertines
“Lose You” by Pete Yorn
The Morning After – The Mini-Playlist
There are now four stories spinning around in my head vying for my attention, fighting for purchase of the ever-crowding creative city of my insides, wrestling it out for that strangely coveted spot of “the project” I’m working on now. If I could I would quit everything else and just write them all, let them each have their space and their say, but that’s not realistic, feasible, or any of those “practical” words (insert practicality here), so I think that maybe this clumsy girl needs to learn how to juggle and work a little bit on all of them.
Girl to the Front (Let’s Finish Something)
That said, this notion (or plan, or naive goal) does conflict with my desire (and need) to finish one project at a time. I have issues with finishing, with not running away in the middle, with not being seduced by the “new thing”, that I need to confront head-on. Will I ever be able to finish anything if I dabble in everything?
Or is this a symptom of my perfectionism, a symptom of my anxiety disorder and low self-esteem issues. If it doesn’t come quickly and perfectly, I give up or put it aside. Or is it fear of vulnerability, of putting something I’ve spent so many years and years working on out into the world where it may be rejected. Another symptom, or issue – deep, wide, and encompassing rejection and abandonment issues.
I’’m listening to Liz Phair. It started because I was doing a write-up on Whip-Smart which led me into a nostalgic spin in her first three albums. The ’90s were all about me and my love of female musicians. It was Lilith Fair and Riot Grrrls nearly 24/7. I was in my twenties. I was a mess. I was lost and found and all those things in-between. I was questioning everything about myself – my sexuality, my relationships, my dreams, my body. I was rash and bold and brave and spontaneous. I wore my heart dangling on my sleeve. I fell in what I thought was love a lot (it was never love, at least not the big kind, the kind that you hope will last). I broke my so-called heart a lot. I made a ton of mistakes and made a ton more changes. I met some amazing people who would become some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and most of them lived far, far away from me. The internet and I met (and yes, I fell hard – I was falling hard all the time in the ’90s). And yes, I needed A BIG LOAN FROM THE GIRL ZONE (to quote Tori, though I am listening to Liz right now).
I think of the characters I’m playing with. I decided to kill one recently, though I don’t know how I’ll be able to do it as I love him so very much. I became reacquainted with another character this week, one I’d thought not to touch again, but she showed up all smiles and issues and stories to tell. She is the most like me (if it could be memoir I’d let it, but there is so much fear in that for me – so she stays in the land of creative non-fiction/fiction, for now), which often makes her the hardest to write.
I need to take more photographs of places I want to eke out as setting and space. Honing my skills of setting and space, of being able to bring them both to life in a way that the reader can feel and see and smell and maybe even taste the surroundings is something I’m focusing attention on right now. It’s not a strong suit, and I don’t want to over-do it, but I want to get better at it.
Visuals are a big thing to me, so I feel like a good practice would be to take photos and use them as writing prompts. See how much I can describe a place or space. Get down to the tiniest details, but also swoop in from an aerial view. I think it might help.
I wish I could sleep more. That insomnia would ease up a bit. That I wouldn’t finally fall into that delicious level of sleep where dreams come right before my damn alarm is set to go off. I walk around most days now feeling like a “walker”, shuffling from work to school to home to another failed attempt to sleep again.
I close my eyes and all the characters come to life. Stories unfold, plots and dialogues and things that I don’t want to quiet because I need them. But could they just take a night or two off from my brain? Let Ladysleep and I have a two-night affair or something?
“Supernova” by Liz Phair
from the album, Whip-Smart (1994)
(from August 2015)
early morning quakes like the big one
a familiar song resurrecting subconsciousness
flooding my bloodstream with memory
that meet up at the crossroads of dream and deny
sometimes I think we are forgotten
criss-cross days shadowing out recollection
until everything fades into syndication
rerun airings of who I once was
but on days like this
you cling to the holes in my sweater
dangling precariously by a thread
weaving me back into before
late nights resurface in this break of dawn
speakers crackling as I turned up the sound
the layered static of your voice and mine
a melodic call and response of first falling
sometimes I think we remember
past the smog-filled sky that divides street signs
I see you standing on the second step
a return to sender here to say hello
in my clearer moments
I am the one to keep this distance
knocking back the wishing
reminding us both that we just went on
but once it was lucky
to stay in bed long past time to go
tangling limbs in borrowed sheets
giving in to what we knew we couldn’t keep
“The lights will draw you in,
and the dark will bring you down,
and the night will break your heart,
only if you’re lucky now.”
“Lucky Now” by Ryan Adams
from the album, Ashes & Fire (2011)
Songs and Poetry
“Touch, Feel and Lose” is one of my Favorite Songs by Ryan Adams. Though it is near impossible to narrow down the Songs I love to a Top 10 (though I did try back in 2013), this one will always be in that 10. I can even pinpoint when exactly it became one of my Top Favorite Ryan Tunes. Even though I’d had Gold for some time (it was my first Ryan Album), “Touch, Feel and Lose” hadn’t hit me hard until I heard a live version on YouTube from Paradiso, in 2001.
“Touch, Feel and Lose” (live, 2001) by Ryan Adams
originally from the Album, Gold (2001)
This live version knocked me off my feet and grabbed hold of my heart and shook it up. It bubbled up inside me like a bottle of soda that’s tumbled around before opening. I felt like the most heart-aching break-ups, or unrequited-ups were breaking open inside me and I FELT it all.
This is Blues right here.
This is raw exploding passion.
This is one of my all-time Favorite Songs.
“But, I never wanted to be your rollin’ train.
I never wanted to be your dancin’ shoes.
I just wanted you to love me.”
“Touch, Feel and Lose” – Album Version
Gold was the second studio Album by Ryan Adams. “Touch, Feel and Lose” is the fourteenth Track. It was released in September of 2001 on Lost Highway Records. It was certified Gold in the UK. Ryan had wanted it to be a double album, but Lost Highway condensed it instead to a single disc. Ryan was notoriously upset by this claiming that the label took the last five songs and turned them into a bonus disc that they only released with 50,000 copies, and that fans were cheated because of it. This “bonus disc” is known as “Side Four”, which Ryan considers the “fourth side” of the double Album it was meant to be, and that it became when they later released it on vinyl as a double LP edition. (from Wikipedia)
Since its “Throwback Thursday” I’ll share a throwback piece of writing of mine that I did that is inspired by the live version of this Song. The picture that I attached to this piece is by fantastic Artist, Jason Levesque.
keep art alive – art by Jason Levesque
“I knew I was never gonna talk to you tomorrow,
and oh, the birds how they sing.
If you were a bird could you sing me a song of sorrow?
‘Cause all I know from you is grief.”
In the thick haze of early morning Los Angeles traffic, in a messed up truck that’s not even her’s, Jane finds herself feeling sick of just about everything. Especially herself. “Touch, Feel and Lose” comes trickling out of the stereo. She reaches for the sound, turning it up until the crackling speakers begin to shake.
Ryan and his blues. They slip out and swirl around the cab of this messed up truck that’s not even her’s. For a moment Jane feels a little bit saved.
Loving someone who’s still in love with someone else. Good god. How stupid could she be? It’s the stuff of over-wrought tragedies, of tear-jerkers, of teen paperbacks and bad country songs. It’s too ridiculous to ever cry about.
Nevertheless, she starts to cry right as the chorus kicks in.
Strong arms and soulful eyes. You can mistake them for love, she thinks. Wrap yourself all up in a kind smile and broad shoulders. Curl up with a temporary fix. That’s all she’d said he was. Temporary.
So why is shaking like a junkie in week one of rehab?
The sun cuts through the morning muck turning smog into a kind of breathtaking brilliance. Everything ugly turns beautiful under the pink LA sky. In the right light, in the right key, with the window down and the volume up, it’s all so fucking beautiful.
Even this messed up truck that’s not hers.
“Touch, Feel and Lose” (live in Jamaica, Music In High Places)
My Top 5 Music Obsessions of the Day :: 2/7/17
Listen here on Spotify
Tuesday, Tuesday. Are you ready for a new Top 5 Song Obsessions of the Day…for Tuesday?
You can click to listen to each video below, or choose the Spotify link to listen to the My Top 5 Song Obsessions of the Day :: Top Five playlist. I will add each five songs shared to the playlist each day.
1. “Cherry” :: Chromatics
“But, I can’t keep crying,
all of the time.
No, I can’t keep crying,
all of the time.”
Track one/title track from my favorite Chromatics album. This song feels like riding around in an 80’s movie, through Los Angeles, at night – the asphalt wet, the street lights glittery, pulses racing and the tease of neon on black somehow indicative of the swirling, midnight emotions. Cherry. The post-modern, but now past-modern, 80’s femme fatale. Nearly the one that got away, but its cinema, so she is caught in the end.
2. “Never the Same” :: Supreme Beings Of Leisure
my drug –
you taste like home to me.”
Another first track. This one feels fast-forwarded. 90’s instead of 80’s, 4am instead of midnight, pulse still racing, but this time from the E and not the coke. The street still wet, shiny and slick. The night is nearly over, and everyone are the ones that get away. They were masks and brightly colored disguises.
3. “K.” :: Cigarettes After Sex
“I remember when I first noticed that you liked me back.
We were sitting down in a restaurant,
waiting for the check.
We had made love earlier that day,
with no strings attached –
but, I could tell that something had changed,
how you looked at me then.”
A new Cigarettes After Sex song that I didn’t know about. This one may be becoming my favorite of all their songs.
4. “Goddess On a Hiway” :: Mercury Rev
“Well, I got us on a highway,
and I got us in a car,
got us going faster than we’ve ever gone before.”
Can I please have a road trip now?
5. “Falling & Laughing” :: Orange Juice
“You may think me very naive,
taken as true –
I only see what I want to see.”
Love is naive, especially at the start. But sometimes the naivete is what makes the whole thing work. Maybe it is hope, and not naive actions. Maybe it is balance, which seems to be opposite the idea of love as naive, that makes it fall upward.
“I’m halfway to misery.
Some say when you go halfway,
there’s still plenty of time to return.”
“Dusty Trails” (live) :: Lucius
from the album, Good Grief
About the song:
“Dusty Trails” is the final track on Lucius’ second album, Good Grief, which was released in 2016. The album was recorded over the span of 2 years, while Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig were touring the group’s first album.
Lucius veered away from most of the sound of their first album, Wildewoman, and instead they focused their sound on “moody Eighties-synth melodies and raw lyrics about the hardships of marriage.”
“Everyone’s around right now and I’m still alone.”
I heard about Lucius from a best friend who saw them play live at a festival. She told me that I would like them. In the same week, they were a musical guest on the too short lived Showtime series, Roadies. I ran looking for their music at the end of that week, and obsessed over the album for months, especially this track — “Dusty Trails”.
My love of the desert permeates this song, for me, and I am looking forward to putting it on a “desert playlist” to take with me on a desert road trip/writing trip I am planning. This is also a song that hits on some events, and very personal feelings, from the final few months of 2016. There is melancholy here, loneliness, but there is also this thread of hope that is lyrically weaved throughout.
This song is the go-to song that I send to people, or that I slide into playlists, when I want someone to listen, and discover, Lucius for the first time. I feel like it captures Jess and Holly’s voice impeccably. Vocally, they lilt and soar, especially in the live version above.
I have not gone off and away for long, but I left some significant parts of my life around the time this song came into mine. That opening lyric, “We been gone for such a long time that I’m almost afraid to go home.” is so relevant to me. Sometimes I sing-a-long and tears come, other times I breathe into the song, feeling comforted by the connection I feel to it.
There were days I was afraid to go home because it did not feel like home anymore. But, I found my way back, even if there were moments where I felt “halfway to misery”, and did not know how scathed I’d be when I finally sorted it all out.
I still don’t know.
I’m still sorting.
But, aren’t we all?
“Dusty Trails” (album version)
“You could mess up my life in a poem,
have me divorced by the time of the chorus,
there’s no need to change any sentence,
when you always decide where I go next.”
Working Titles (live) :: Damien Jurado
from the album, Maraqopa (2012)
About the song:
“Working Titles” is the sixth track on the 2012 release from Damien Jurado entitled Maraqopa. It was the 10th studio album, and was produced by Richard Swift. The album was released in February, of 2012, on Secretly Canadian records.
It is a “theme” album, a story told in song that follows a man as he disappears from society. The man takes nothing with him except a couple hundred dollars. He winds up in a mysterious place called Maraqopa.
The first time I listened to “Working Titles” it stopped me completely, the lyrics, like tiny daggers, reminding me immediately of the experience of loving a writer, and being a writer, as well. It stung in the way that loss does, in the way that feeling misunderstood does, and in the way that missing does.
It reminded me of being a muse once, of having poetry written about me (and/or us), of having songs on an album that contain pieces of someone’s perspective of me. It is a sentiment of art and beauty and love, but it can also feel hollow and lonely and like some gorgeously, melodically misunderstanding.
On later listens (there has been quite a few as I love this song), I saw myself in it; in the words, in the language, in the cruelty and the beauty of it. I have done it, I still do it, writing about past loves and lovers, taking my own artistic liberties, painting it all only in the palate of color that my memories, and skewed perspectives, allow.
There is so much going on, in this song, to me.
“Burning every bridge that I cross,
to find some beautiful place to get lost.”
Let’s Get Lost :: Elliott Smith
from the album, From a Basement on the Hill (2004)
About the song:
“Let’s Get Lost” appears on the posthumous album, From a Basement on the Hill. All songs, including this one, were recorded between 2002 and 2003.
I have said for years and years that I possess a gypsy soul, one that I credit my grandfather with, an inherited trait, this love for the road. But sometimes I wonder if this wanderlust that rattles inside of me is just my gypsy soul at work, or if it is more than that. Is it a desire to get lost, to escape, to run when things get too hard for me, too much too handle, when I feel too exposed, vulnerable and afraid?
The lines in this song about burning bridges and seeking a “beautiful place to get lost” resonate with me. They rattle around inside me, pulling at the parts of me that are always looking for that place/places to get lost. Some days I want it so bad — that escape — that I have to fight the urge to just keep driving, to just keep going, to disappear.
Is this song about different escapes, too? Drugs, love, addiction, that urge to run? All of the above?