Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No. 499 – Folk Song

Performer: The Sundays
Songwriters: David Gavurin, Harriet Wheeler
Original Release: Static and Silence
Year: 1997
Definitive Version: None

I started coming out of my post-Debbie-breakup depression at the end of the summer of 2001, and a big reason was my first trip to Las Vegas.

Jin had been going to Las Vegas for about a decade. It started as a trip between just her and a platonic male friend, Timm, and grew to become the Rat Pack Weekend. By the time I scheduled my first excursion, the Rat Pack consisted of nearly two dozen members.

But Jin and I made additional plans. I’d fly to Los Angeles and hang out for a few days; then, we’d drive to the Grand Canyon for a couple days before finally heading to Vegas. Scott and Shani, also making their first trip, were flying in from Cincinnati.

Jin and I had a great time in L.A., and I’ll have more to say about specifics of that part of the vacation another time. In fact, the time in L.A. was so enjoyable that Jin and I began to discuss a possible move by me to her neck of the woods.

Since she moved to L.A. in November 1993, Jin had been trying to get family members to move closer. It was mostly in jest, but now all the stars were aligning. I suddenly had no responsibilities and was looking to move on. She had a house with a spare bedroom. I could earn my keep by cooking and cleaning and maintaining the home, while she worked. She all but demanded that I freeload off her as I plotted my next step, which I was in the process of figuring out.

We listened to Static and Silence a lot during this vacation, and that’s when this song really connected with me. It fit the laid-back vibe I was feeling, and I can even connect it to a sensory memory of how the guest bedroom smells. Jin has two orange trees and one lemon tree in her backyard, so it’s very fragrant—with just a hint of the incense and the ocean in the distance. It drew me in, and I noted with some delight on a recently concluded visit that it smelled just the same.

As you know by now, of course, I didn’t move west—then or later—and I’ll explain how that came to be in the days ahead. This song, however, didn’t get locked into that time, like other songs do.

When Laurie invited me to visit her a third time at New Year’s in 2004-05, we agreed to have a little Christmas gift exchange on New Year’s Day. One of the gifts I got her was a mix tape of songs that she might not know by artists that she loved, like The Sundays. She knew Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, but she didn’t know this album.

I called the mixtape Laurie Tunes, and I wrote a brief passage for each song, not unlike this here blog although far more brief. This was the opening song on that tape.

Laurie loved it, and this past New Year’s, I gave her Laurie Tunes No. 9. It’s now more of a musical review of the past year than anything general, but it’s a gift to which Laurie always looks forward.

I still make the tape, but after about a week, I put the new songs on a thumb drive that we play in our dining-room mini stereo. The drive includes all of the previous Laurie Tunes. When we hit shuffle, we hear songs from all nine versions. But whenever this song comes on, we always note that it was the very first Laurie Tune.

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