Everything you listen to’s got a story. Not just in the writing or conception of it, but in its journey to you. And every so often, one of those pieces comes to you in just the right way that it develops a real significance. It could be anything. A phrase, quote, expression, something on TV you catch out of the corner of your eye and for a minute or two all those old moods rush up and threaten to drown you in memories of heavy conversations and the song playing quietly in the background while you sat in the car, fog on the windows cut into shapes and letters with warm fingers, that song that comes around to hit you right between the eyes when you hear it again years later. It happens to everybody. I hope.
For me, it’s songs and bands that throw me around in
n past like an episode of Quantum Leap. You remember, that terrible show?
Who am I kidding? I loved it.
Within the last six months, I’ve gone on a ‘Shit I Haven’t Heard Before’ kick, and I’ve discovered many a great artist—from Gordon Lightfoot, Dr. Dog, and the Velvet Underground to the Constantines, Band of Skulls, and The Besnard Lakes—but I keep getting sidetracked down these little rabbit-holes that crop up.
I found ‘Shine A Light,’ by the Constantines—and wrote about it last week in a previous post—and enjoyed the hell out of it, then became curious about the rest of the bill of that awesome concert (horrible evening, though,) and dug out my old Foo Fighters records. Well, the Foos’ first album remained alone on my stereo for a few days as I reabsorbed it and it reminded me of all these happenings. Like when I was doing janitorial work for Sutton High School, and I got caustic in my eye and it swelled shut one morning. Somehow, I drove the Fiero home and convinced Ryan to drive me to Newmarket, because I had to go to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, half my vision gone and the other half blurry with pain, Ryan casually mentions, “You haven’t heard this, have you?” and puts it on the stereo. Then he pulls into the parking lot of the CIBC at Davis & the 404.
“Where are we going?” I’m almost in tears.
“I just need some cash. Just a sec.” It’s a beastly hot Ontario summer, and I can still feel the throb across the left side of my face, dark streaks—cars—passing quickly through the one eye I could open as he left and this is what’s playing.
But somehow, between the time that song came on and he was done in the bank, the swelling had gone down enough that we figured I probably didn’t have to go to Emergency. And, seeing as how we had the day off anyway… I’m pretty sure we went to Queen Street in the city after that, hitting up all the places we’re too hip for now like Black Market, the Silver Snail and Steve’s Music. It ended up being a great day, and that record reminds me of it every time.
But we’ve all got albums—or pictures, posters, poems—like that, don’t we? We all need things like that to grab onto every so often. I guess one of the things that’s stayed me through every phase of my so-called life is an unflinching faith in that power of art, even if it’s popular. There’s just something more than comforting about being able to reach out and touch that person I was, even if hindsight has made me realize all his mistakes (and there’ve been plenty.) Maybe it’s the memory that’s important, because, even if it makes me uncomfortable, I still dig out my copy of ‘Den of Thieves’ by The Trews every so often, and remember an ex-girlfriend telling me she wished I felt “Broken-Hearted Me” was about her.
So. What’s yours?
PS This is exactly what would happen if I was allowed to own a record store. I love this movie, more than the book, I think.