Performer: Robbie Robertson
Songwriter: Robbie Robertson
Original Release: Robbie Robertson
Definitive Version: None, and don’t even bring up Rod Stewart’s rendition.
There’s no question I like my Robbie Robertson slow, dreamy and, preferably, paired with Peter Gabriel. Unlike Fallen Angel, Gabriel’s contribution on Broken Arrow, of course, is limited to the underlying synth that makes this song.
Visiting Torch Lake in summer 1990 was a bit of a reclamation project. Because of work time off and distance, I made it up no more than once per year throughout the Eighties. I didn’t go in 1987, so when I went in 1989, it was the first time since 1982 that I was there without a paramour. In my great tradition, I wasted my weekend brooding about things I didn't have—and about how the visit in 1988 with Melanie had been particularly epic (good ol’ No. 206). I didn’t have a very good time.
But in 1990, even though no one else had come along to expunge the memory of Melanie, I was OK going to Torch Lake. In fact, I even was a little excited about it, because now that I lived in Grand Blanc, or Gd Blanc as the exit sign on U.S. 23 always said, It was no trouble getting there. I could leave at the end of my work shift around noon Friday and be there before dinner. Then, I could leave after dinner on Sunday and be home before it was bedtime. Well, given my 4 a.m. wakeup time, it was more like home before most normal people went to bed.
Anyway, when I went up in August, I took the box of 1990 Topps baseball cards that I bought in Columbus in June (good ol’ No. 104) to have something to do in the evening after dinner. I knew that my cousins Ryan and Rob, who were close to their teens, would be there that weekend, and I had learned that they recently had gotten into card collecting in a big way, so I thought it would be fun to have them help me open my box.
I also took my new tape of Robbie Robertson’s album, and I bet I listened to that tape, in the car and on my Walkman, a half-dozen times that weekend. That was when I really fell in love with it.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but being at Torch Lake typically revolves around activities at the yacht club—tennis, sailing, socializing with people with whom I’m not friends—unless it rains and there’s no wind. Then there’s nothing to do … but stuff you don’t normally get to do, like turtle hunting or, God forbid, just relaxing at home.
In 1990, it rained the entire weekend I was at Torch Lake until Sunday evening, and even better, it was just a steady downpour, not a storm. The lake was flat calm, not a breath of air, just a deluge. No sailing, no swimming, no nothing … except maybe staying inside and opening packs of baseball cards.
So that was my Saturday: sitting around the huge “bowling alley” dinner table in the Big House with Ryan and Rob, plowing through my Topps box, opening the packs and arranging them in some sort of order so I could see how close to getting the whole set I got. (Given what I already had bought in packs, I was close enough that my new buddy Dave was able to help me finish it off when I got home via trades.)
Any doubles were passed over to the brothers. Rob in particular was looking for his favorite player, Mark McGwire. He found one right away, but that, of course, went to my set. He spent the rest of the day looking in vain for another Mark McGwire. In fact, I have a picture from that day, and in the picture, Rob’s holding his hand in a way, as he said, to show where a Mark McGwire card would be before long. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Well, we’ll try the next day. While opening the box of cards, Ryan told about this store in Charlevoix that sold cards. They had a couple of card bins, he said, and you could buy whatever they had, a dime per card. That seems worth checking out … if we’re not at the club, of course.
When we got up the next morning, the rain was just as steady and the lack of wind just as pronounced. I was thrilled. OK, who all wants to go to Charlevoix?
I realized when I got there that although our place was about a half-hour’s drive up U.S. 31 to Charlevoix, I’d never been except to pass through to get to Mackinac Island. It seemed like a nice enough town, lots of clothes shops and destinations for summerfolk.
We stopped at the Dairy Grille for ice cream and hit the card store, which wasn’t so much a card store, but an antiques store that had two boxes of cards in front, all filled with stuff from the past year. In other words, they held nothing I needed. However, Ryan and Rob, their cardlust up after opening packs of cards not meant for them, did a good amount of singles speculating while I advised them of the potential of this player and that.
The celebratory Meem’s Sunday night pizza tasted extra good that night as the sky finally started to break up, and I had had such a great stay that I decided to play hooky and stay an extra day. I called Sue at The Journal and left a message on her voicemail that my car had broken down at Torch Lake, and I was stuck. I had to repair it before I could get home.
This was a plausible excuse, because my car’s maladies were well known around the newsroom. I never told anyone the true nature of why I didn’t go to work that Monday … until now.
After dinner, Jin and I and Ryan and Rob’s older sister, Laura, went to the Dockside for some libations. Laura wanted to go, because there was a guy there she wanted to see, and she needed reinforcements. She did talk to him, at our do-as-we-say-not-as-we-wouldn’t-do urging, so it was a successful weekend all around.
As I drove home the next day, a sunny day, in the late afternoon, I felt my love of Torch Lake had been renewed.