Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No. 309 – Can’t Find My Way Home

Performer: Blind Faith
Songwriter: Steve Winwood
Original Release: Blind Faith
Year: 1969
Definitive Version: The original studio version.

As I write this, Laurie and I are coming off a benefit performance at the Metro—a hallowed Chicago rock barn. One of the songs was a cover of About a Girl by Nirvana—the electric version.

Although I suppose a lot of people know that that song, made famous by Nirvana’s Unplugged performance, was originally an electric song, I wonder how many know that that’s also true of this song. OK, maybe the original version wasn’t electric, but Blind Faith recorded an electric version of this song. As far as I know, it surfaced only on Steve Winwood’s The Finer Things album and a deluxe copy of Blind Faith. I’ve heard the electric version of this song once.

I remember that night well. Debbie and I planned to go out to dinner with Sharon and Roger, Debbie’s best friends in Columbus, whom we saw a lot. The night in question, sometime in 1998 or 1999, I think, was to celebrate Roger’s birthday. We went to dinner at a restaurant that long has slipped my mind. What I recall, however, was that a storm of positively cataclysmic proportions was forecast to hit the city that night.

The local news was apoplectic in their dire predictions of devestation—nothing unusual, really, when it comes to reporting storms—and from the radar, it did seem to be a big one. A tornado watch was put into effect, like, days before the storm’s arrival.

Anyway, our plan had been to go from dinner to Sharon and Roger’s house for birthday cake and post-dinner drinks, and the timing was such that we’d be leaving the restaurant right at about the time the storm was expected to hit. We had dinner in Worthington, and Sharon and Roger lived in Gahanna, so we had a fairly long drive ahead of us.

As we got into Roger’s car, the sky just lit up, as though someone turned on a strobe. It was—and still is—the most incredible lightning display I’ve seen. The only storm that I could recall coming close to matching it was the night I saw the tornado when I was a little boy in 1973. But this lightning was almost overhead, just north of I-270, and it was constant to the point where you couldn’t see where one flash stopped and another started—a strobe light, like I said.

I figured that rain, hail and for all I knew frogs were about to bury us on the freeway, but if we had five raindrops hit the windshield, we certainly had no more than that. We got to Sharon and Roger’s feeling as though we got home just in the nick of time, but a funny thing happened: The storm missed us completely.

The lightning continued to rage, seemingly just to the north of where we were—we could see it out the skylights in Sharon and Roger’s great room—but that was all. We turned on the TV to the radar channel, and the storm—massive, all right—was bearing down on Columbus from the north, but it seemed to curl right around I-270. Every time we checked, it continued to bend around and miss the city when there seemed to be no reason we wouldn’t take a direct hit.

At this point, it no longer mattered. We were safely indoors, enjoying cake and libations and the music over Roger’s newly installed 5.1 sound system (one of the first of those I remember seeing).

Sharon chose the Winwood album, and when this song came on, I voiced my surprise. I had no idea Blind Faith did an electric version of this song; I couldn’t even conceive of such a thing. To my complete lack of surprise, the electric version failed to stand out in any way other than its mere existence, which probably is why its existence has been all but forgotten.

Speaking of electric, when it was time to find our way home home, Debbie and I discovered that the conditions there matched those of Gahanna farther to the south. The storm of the century, which was spectacular, was a dud in terms of impact. We didn’t get a drop of rain.

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