"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Thursday, 24 April 2014

music and memories (and gin)

It happens to me quite often.  I am thinking about something or trying to put a blog post together, it does not seem to be working or coming together and then, by chance, I read or hear something that hits just the right chord and it makes everything gel together nicely.

It was supposed to be a happy Easter weekend with Nic arriving and some family time planned.  I collected him from the airport at 11.30 on Friday night.  We had not even hit the N2 when I received a message on my phone.  Nic picked up the phone to read the message.  His "No Mom, No, No!!" gave me a cold shiver and had me nearly pulling off the road.  Sam, his uncle and the oldest Rosslee brother, who he had been staying with in Pretoria, had died suddenly that evening. Shock, dismay and feelings of helplessness followed. Bob, now 89, had lost another son. His wife, had lost her soul mate and his three children, their dad and grandfather. Sad times.

But once the sadness and shock wears off good times and stories are remembered. Two of my best memories are both about having Sam visit our home in Parry Road years ago.  He was in Cape Town on business and arrived to visit, very smart in his full air force uniform.  Dalene and Kathy were visiting me after they had finished work.  It was still pretty early, a hot summer day and the boys were playing outside. Sam went off to change and said he was off to the bottle store as it was a good evening for gin and tonics and a braai.  We were not serious drinkers in those days (maybe this day changed it?).  He came back with gin, tonic, ice and bitters and proceeded to pour the ladies a drink (in long beer glasses).  They were just perfect and we ended up having three each.  Once we saw that his 3 drinks each for 4 people had used up three quarters of a bottle of Gordons Dry Gin, we realised why we were having difficulty getting out of our chairs. As his punishment he had to cook supper for the boys because the ladies slumped straight back in their chairs, sat laughing and joking and were not good for much else. I never let him forget that story.

The other story was a late night music one.  An argument about whether Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah was better.  I was for Buckley, Sam for Cohen.  Sitting around the fire with John, Vaughan and Sam, I eventually admitted defeat, with all three ganging up against me, I did not stand much chance so I sulked off and headed upstairs for bed.  The trio (now all no longer with us), with Cohen's version blaring, were not going to even entertain listening to Buckley (or my latest Sting CD), so bed was a better option.  A few years ago, Sam sent me his best Dylan selection - he knew his music (but would never admit that Buckley's version was definitely better).  He knew better than to send me any Leonard Cohen!! 

Dear Bruce Springsteen,

It was 2002, I believe, and you were on your Rising Tour in Detroit -- where I'm originally from. My father, being the fan that he was, liked to splurge on General Admission tickets. I didn't blame him. There's no sight quite like watching each droplet of sweat leave your forehead and land on the chords of your guitar.
And I inarguably had the best seat in the house.

My sisters and I would take turns watching the concert from my dad's shoulders. Imagine it: a breezy night in the mosh pit of Comerica Park at eye level with The Boss, feeling the security of my dad's warm embrace.
Magical is the only word I could use to describe it.
At one point, I felt like it was just me, you and my dad in that arena. After watching your sweat seep through the bandana wrapped around your forehead and spotting each speck of dirt splashed on your sneakers, I looked back at the stadium and saw the mega crowd going nuts for you.

After reading this, some goosebumps and some tears, I could not resist listening to Thunder Road again

The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again, I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside, darling, you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
Oh, and that's alright with me

You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now, I ain't no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey, what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well, the night's busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting on down the tracks

Oh oh, come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride ain't free
And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoken
But tonight we'll be free, all the promises'll be broken

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines rolling on
But when you get to the porch, they're gone on the wind
So Mary, climb in
It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win

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