so here i am, and there i am, in the pit, pounding through the zenith's first big production show, "that 60's show", beatles to motown to hair, enjoying the intellectual zing of sight reading music but still reeling emotionally from the wild shifts of the last few days, weeks, months. i have run away again, again, and hopefully for some good, some real financial problem solving this time, but i always manage to leave at a time of hallucinatory bliss...as if only the leaving, the sudden short time allowed, the instability, can produce those resonances in the world and those feelings in me. and so i am there with my fingers doing what they do best unknown to me as my mind is busy in the syrup of ago dreaming back and forth between the present and the longed for future, magnolia wind through my shivering skin, i am a drunken active coma of thought, and then the flower power sections begins-- and i am shocked into heart lump clutch because im suddenly not only listening to, hearing, but also helping create, with shining root position chords, a gel-lit morsel of the song "if you go to san francisco".
...youre gonna meet some gentle people there...
oh joy and sorrow! synchronicitous silken trickster universe conspires against my heart strings and rings them wet through her ivory hands. it medleys into california dreamin...
furthermore, im reading "east of eden" by steinbeck (thank you cgk!), and it is sooooooooo beautiful...the descriptions of california, the salinas valley, the rivers and winds and sagebrush. hes really brilliant. and more: joni mitchells blue, just really discovered on a drive up highway 1 after a magic magi weekend epitomizing the california vibe joni is talking about...yes the people i dig, and right, yes, sunset pig (which to me actually suggests that joni is a vegetarian but that the cookout on the beach will be so beautiful and so flowingly lovely that she will even kiss meat, perhaps have a taste, special occasion. hee!) and the next night, the guest performer (sax player from the benny hill show) does a really really fun to play version of "my life" (i pound the jangly high notes! du-du, dun, du-du, duh!)...and its lines about "...sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast..." all of this leaving me pining for a place! my home!
when i first drove into san francisco, following dps's thorough email directions in a metal uhaul truck (i like that unnecessary adjective there), my fantasy was incense and wine, a porch by the beach with friendly faces who would call me up from the street, seeing my fresh wide eyes, and would welcome my fat belly and wild hair with their bottles and beads and bare open arms. the fantasy was only half ironic...it seemed possible to me. so ingrained in my midwestern consciousness was this image of california, from a hundred songs of the sixties and seventies sucked down thirstily in my adolesence. here was music originally for a generation that didnt fit, that was creating their own "new explanation"...and in my childhood, i found myself not fitting either, not only with the establishment but with anyone of my own generation, pounding their way through beer cans of guns n roses. lost, alone, fucked. so the sixties music became mine, and maybe my parents listend to it, but it was really mine. to escape into. and it all seemed to come from california; even the british stuff. sgt pepper was, in my secret heart, recorded in san francisco. whatever. thats not true. but janis and jimi! i knew that somthing magic and decidely unmidwestern was going on over there, something filled with altered reality and possibility.
oh cwg, mcw, nda, how is it to have grown up there? grown up and always had honey dripping from branches to suckle?
now every time i leave or return, brisk san francisco air, that old feeling hits me again, of this actually being that cliched place, where the people are kind and open, where the oranges spill over the sides. and now the music! there is music that does this for me now, my music that brings me home and makes me feel so sweet all over. mine! my music! my most precious belonging, an audible photo album that exists everywhere, anywhere i go the songs are in the air. and it fills me, chills me, thrills me.
how does that happen? listen to another one, even weirder: the other guest entertainer does "tiny dancer", a hot fast version. ive never heard this song...never, except for the scene in almost famous where they sing it on the bus, and that just once, barely remember. anyway, so we play this song, again, sightreading, and fuck! the first minute is really fast rock solo piano! fucking great! the piano is miked and loud and still jingle jangle, like theres a chain over the strings. and by the end of the song, oh magic love i own it! by the end of the song, it is a whole world of nostalgia for me, instantly created and completely nebulous in content. it doesnt remind me of a person, or a place, but theres a feeling, a fuzziness now, like drinking from my grandmothers juice glasses. i love the tiny dancer, i can see her dressed in yellow, and i want her to win!
other songs are more concrete. my first lsd experience was in san francisco, in a flat high above haight ashbury, and i put on jefferson airplanes surrealistic pillow at a pivotal moment (said pivot being that a house across the way had turned into a gigantic robot), and it was mine. strangely billie holiday singing "nice work if you can get it" also figured prominently into that experience- the adorable horn line intro seemed like the only beautiful thing in the world for a scary half hour or so.
so music is a healer, and an inflicter, salvation and sadness, a memory puller and sentiment moonshiner stronger then scent for me. if i want to smell jason rigby again, i put on coltranes ballads and his laugh is bear shaking me awake again from my intoxicated highschool couch slumber. my mothers irish records played at full volume, my fathers ry cooder tapes, my sister doing hand motions to "help!" on the living room coffee table, and my family is not so far away. every caress of an exlover remembered through the ink spots, solomon burke, elliott smith.
i know this is nothing new, but its fun to talk about.
but new for me: now its a place too! not just a person or a time, or a weird drippily shivery feeling, but a whole honest to god place, all of the vastness. all of the times, each moment of four five years, every exoticly fragrant richmond corner and market street bicycle death trap and night sky bundled into a three minute song. california. my home, my wet winded lilypad!
i revel in the sadness and longing this music gives me. the wind is in from africa, there are flowers in my hair, im all alone and so lonely and lost again and i love music, 'my prom date for life'. i can ring tears out of this sad old heart be they joy or moan, with a whole ringing singing silver gilded catalogue of san francisco song now.
and oh i like that, i really do.