Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No. 898 – A New Machine

Performer: Pink Floyd
Songwriter: David Gilmour
Original Release: A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Year: 1987
Definitive Version: Tongue, Tied & Twisted, 1988

On the album, this song is marked A New Machine (Part 1), Terminal Frost and A New Machine (Part 2), but let’s not kid ourselves: It’s all one song. This is the first of many multipart suites that I can’t mentally divide, so I consider them to be a single song. Besides, when in doubt, refer to rule No. 1: My house, my rules.

After I opened Scott’s eyes to Pink Floyd in April 1988, he quickly found Tongue, Tied & Twisted, which came from a show on the 1987 leg of the band’s huge first Roger Waters-less tour. For almost every song that’s on this list that they played on that tour, this bootleg delivers the definitive version in my mind. I associate it too much with those songs, because I played this all the time.

And speaking of association, almost every Pink Floyd song that’s on this list—and I’m not spoiling anything by saying there are many more to come—makes me think of Melanie.

With apologies to everyone who grew up in the Sixties, 1988 was the Summer of Love. My relationship with Melanie was a hurricane that blew in out of nowhere, ended abruptly and left me scattered for years afterward. It’s only been in the past decade that I finally was able to understand it and put it into proper perspective. I loved Melanie, whom I was with for four months, more passionately that I did Beth, whom I was with for four years. In retrospect, that wasn’t fair to either one, but then the heart doesn’t do fair.

As much as I might like, there’s no sense in trying to recount the whole thing chronologically, so I won’t. So, let’s start with something inconsequential.

Melanie came to visit me in New Buffalo for the Fourth of July, but because I had a huge newshole to fill in the newspaper due to the summer season, I had to cover everything—including the annual Cherry Pit Spitting contest that’s held in Eau Claire, Mich. This was serious business, and the record-holder was going to return after a one-year absence to take a shot at his own record of spitting a cherry pit 46 feet. I still can see the rolling farm land of U.S. 12 as we headed East to the languid tones of this suite (OK, really all of side 2 of Momentary Lapse, among other things).

I took pictures, while Melanie helpfully jotted down distances for me. The champ showed up at the end to great fanfare—on a motorcycle doing wheelies out in the street. It would have been hilarious if he then whiffed, but he won it all—I got a great action shot of the winning spit. However, he didn’t break his record.

Melanie and I had an excellent weekend together, although I don’t remember too many details of that particular visit aside from the Cherry Pit Spit (how can you possibly forget something like that) save for watching the fireworks over Lake Michigan down on the beach and the fireworks that ensued later that night back home.

It was a hell of a summer.

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