Skip to content

Ruined Music, Three Ways

October 17, 2008

We joke that in this photo, they could be fighting, could be farting, could be going for a bit of humping from behind. Of course, the boys are dancing. Probably to Black Betty, which we loved for a minute and played till the potted palms shook.

Driving in the car, the classic rock station plays this one-hit wonder and I remember Stomach and JD scrawny and young, stomping the hardwood floor; and me and Robyn, with ribbons in our dyed-bright hair.

When I was living away and got homesick, that song made me cry–and you would be surprised how often it turns up in soundtracks, tv commercials, at the mall, the coffee shop, leaking from someone’s headphones on the train. Playing at the worst possible moments, impressionable times like 9 a.m., when anything you hear settles into your head for the day.


I remember the song I listened to, over and over and over, as I wrote notes to a long-distance boyfriend. He was a lovely young man who would soon expose himself as more than slightly shady, and whom I would ultimately charge with a variety of crimes. The song was some generic hit by Erasure. Now, that disco trill conjures Sarasota beaches, the sunburn that kept me awake three nights, and the packet of postage stamps that linked me to him back in Canada.

Last year, someone from those days sent me a Facebook link, along with a short note: “Isn’t this that creep you dated? The one who went to jail?”

Sure enough, there was my Erasure-ex, looking as shady as ever and snuggling his newborn baby.


I discovered Arvo Paart one frigid November, while writing a long, LONG story. I shoved my narrative into a corner, and there, struggled against it while pounding Estonian concertos backed me up. Grim, painful things, compositions for strings and piano, written by a man whose art threw heavy punches.

Certainly, his music is beautiful, some of the loveliest sounds I’ve heard. But the moment I hear a few notes, my fingers freeze, poised above the keyboard.

Then, I simply fold my hands in my lap.


An interesting aside: I wrote this story, posted it, then left the city to spend three days at a lovely cabin up north. One evening, we turned on the radio, and what was playing? “Black Betty”, of course.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: