Performer: Robert Plant
Songwriters: Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone
Original Release: Manic Nirvana
Definitive Version: none
For the record, all of the windows in my apartment in Grand Blanc opened, including the one next to my bed that faced North, away from the sun. I had plenty of cool cross-breeze there.
Some songs conjure up memories of a time; others conjure up memories of a specific event or day. This is one of the latter.
As I mentioned, after I was put in charge of the copy for the zoned sections at The Journal, my work schedule shifted so I was one of the first people in the newsroom in the morning. (Hank, whom I mentioned, always was the first.)
My shift began at 5 a.m., which meant, to shower, get dressed and drive to Flint, I had to be up by 4. For breakfast, I kept a box of cereal in my desk drawer where most editors keep their hooch, and then I bought a milk from the vending machine in the break room.
My early wakeup meant that to get a good night’s sleep, I had to be in bed by 9, 8 prefereably. Going to bed at 8 or 8:30 is OK in February, which is when I started my new shift. It’s dark out; the sun had set hours before; it wasn’t so bad. It’s a whole different ballgame in the summer. For one thing, you can’t go to any ballgames, because they all start at 7—even the ones in which you might play.
One day—I think it was July, far along into the summer—I decided I wanted to grill out. I hadn’t made my pork chops with the spicy butter BBQ sauce that I liked so much and made a lot the previous summer since I had moved from Mount Prospect.
I made all the preparations and set up a foldout chair, cracked a beer and opened (ahem) the window next to my bed by the front porch, which is where I kept my grill. That way I could hear the music from my stereo.
I got Manic Nirvana while I was in the midst of a big Robert Plant roll after Now and Zen, and I had on Manic Nirvana along with other CDs in shuffle mode as I sat outside to grill and eat.
The food was fine, but the experience was less than satisfying. In fact, it was downright depressing. It wasn’t so much that I was alone, which didn’t help, but that as soon as I was done eating, I realized that it was 8 already. The sun was setting, yes, but it still would be light out for almost another hour. I could hear activity going on around the apartment buildings. And I had to go to bed.
I cleaned up everything mechanically as this song’s sorrowful tone filled the apartment, and I felt sorry for myself. When you’re a kid, there’s nothing worse than having to go to bed while there’s still daylight—and thus playtime—out. Now, almost 20 years later, I felt the same way. I felt like I couldn’t do anything, because I had to go to bed so soon. I barely could even make dinner for myself at a normal time. Meanwhile, everyone else was outside playing.
I hadn’t disliked my job until that moment, but now the bloom officially was off the rose. This was going to have change, soon.