Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Stuck Between Stations

In the dull morning light at the edge of town, Holly lifted the blinds and sighed. Out the window, the rain had doused the street trash and left it running in the gutter. Her face held the reflected gloom in the wrinkled corners of her eyes and the crags that traced her jowls from mouth's edge to chin. She hacked. She coughed. She got up out of the bed.

She'd had a rough time of it the last couple of years: hospital trips, living in a tent down by the river, being born again (and lost, again), reeling in the years. It seemed like every time she had her cob-webby head above water, bobbing in sight of dry land, some eddy or rip tide would suck her down and drag her back out to sea.

The soundtrack of her life had been little stories of hoodrats and soccer punks, drug dealers, massive nights, and a multitude of casualties. Power chords, key board riffs, and some Kerouac-cum-Randy Newman-sounding dude chattering away and snapping his fingers like a four year-old on speed. It was no kind of soundtrack for a forty year-old. Hell, it was no kind of life, either.

But, lately, something was missing. The spastic energy of her life to this point was bearable, even enjoyable (dim and dangerous, yes, but hella fun), but for the last year or so, something was akilter. Some kind of yin was missing from her yang. Some sort of ipso was no longer a part of her facto. Some manner of tic was not accompanying her toc. The shape was there. The word was there. The sound was there. But it had a different tenor, a new tone, a subtly altered hue.

Last night, that band had played, The Hold Steady. Sounded good. Rocked and rolled in all the right places. Payed its dues with sweat. But where was that other guy, this time? The buttoned-up, mustachioed fellow in the flat cap and suit vest, swigging red wine right from the bottle and zipping his digits over the keyboard like he'd been born behind a Hammond organ? Sure, they had a keyboard player, now relegated to the back of the stage and playing riffs he never invented, but that front-man energy was missing from the stage. That energy that acted as a balance to the lead singer's pogo-stick energy--a balance to the talky-singer's white tennis shoes, his ephemeral, and strangely uncoordinated, stadium rock pose--was not there. The music, it all sounded right. But the vibe, the vibe was off.

It's funny how that happens. You take something away, and you think you can replace it. Hell, for the most part, you do replace it. But something is forever changed. Something you can't even imagine becomes something else (and you might not even notice it IS something else). Like that time, down by the banks of the Mississippi River, when she woke up bathed in a hot soft light....

1 comment:

La Fashionista said...

I like your style. The way you wove the parts together was nifty and made me interested to read more. However, I'm sorry to hear about what was missing now that things have changed.