When I took my seat on the Hormone Rollercoaster in high school, I had just discovered Pink Floyd, and 'Wish You Were Here' became my invisible friend. Because of the timing of my first hearing the song, I had always associated it with my first real girlfriend in high school, and the way we broke up. I'd made an ass of myself hounding after her, and I thought the song was a simple analogy to unrequited love.
But ten years later the song was still with me, through many changes in my surroundings and circumstances, visiting me when I was working late yet again, floating past when I felt rejected. I didn't need to play the song--though I often chose to soon after it came to me. I came to realize that I didn't always think of that old girlfriend with the song. It was about something else.
Gradually, its presence in my life receded. The song lost some of its power over me, too. Another song started to haunt me--oddly, one I'd bought years before and listened to regularly. It's Paul Simon's 'The Cool, Cool River' from The Rhythm of the Saints. I find myself singing this passage:
I believe in the futureOne day my curiosity overcame me, and instead of letting my brain do what came naturally, I actually looked up the lyrics in the CD booklet. When I saw these:
We shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime
But in yours, I feel sure.
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edges of a thunderstorm
And these streets
Quiet as a sleeping army
Send their battered dreams to heaven, to heaven
For the mother's restless son
Who is a witness to, who is a warrior
Who denies his urge to break and run
Who says: Hard times?
I'm used to them
The speeding planet burns
I'm used to that
My life's so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears
Song dogs barking at the break of dawnI recognized something:
Lightning pushes the edge of a thunderstorm
And these old hopes and fears
Still at my side
How I wish, how I wish you were here.How about that? Old fears. It wasn't any girlfriend, it was the whole package of psychological abuse most of us took in high school--the ridicule and backstabbing and exclusion. I guess I still hadn't recovered. But at least I understood a little better.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year
Running over the same old ground, what have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
In recent years there have been others. The Talking Heads' "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)" - a strange choice, but then, I didn't choose it; it chose me. Sun Kil Moon's "Duk Koo Kim", which I posted about recently. Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Life By The Drop", too.
Do you have any songs that come to you uninvited? I'm not asking for psychoanalysis. But I think it would be interesting to talk about what songs we find ourselves thinking about, and when.