Saturday, May 27, 2006

These Days

It was early this morning when I got up to do the laundry. It was still dim outside, and my girlfriend was still sleeping. I grabbed the laundry basket and my iPod and busied myself.

My iPod is a Nano 4GB with about 900 songs on it, almost all of them blues and almost all of them featuring blues harp. It also has a few non-blues songs from the era when I came of age; the early to mid seventies – rock and folk and country that I liked or was meaningful to me in some way. I set the iPod on shuffle and quietly went about laundering our clothes, by myself on a dark morning.

The song “These Days” by Jackson Browne came on, and I froze like a statue. Instantly, I saw a friend’s living room in 1975. I heard the music coming out of his stereo speakers. I smelled the patchouli and pot. I was there.

I felt that familiar, comfortable certainty that the best rock songs all had steel guitar in them, like Neil Young’s music. Sitting in my friend’s living room in 1975 passing the pipe and listening to Jackson Brown, I related to the music in a visceral way that is hard to describe. It was almost on a cellular level… The song “These Days” was perfect, and I knew it.

Bam! I snapped back to the laundry room, and my eyes welled up and I trembled for a moment. The song is about regrets, and Lord, I have some.

These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

Soon after I sat in that long-ago living room sharing a moment with Jackson Browne I landed at Dirty Jack’s theater, setting out to live the dream. But along the way there were so many things I forgot to do. Alcoholism slowly took over my life, and I could not understand why I was so violent and dishonest. All the times I had the chance to do something about it, I punked. Jackson Browne was warning me, and I didn’t listen. The song was perfect, but I was flawed; I didn’t really hear it.

I rubbed my eyes and finished the laundry, Eric Clapton singing from my iPod. My girlfriend murmured when I bent to kiss her sleeping cheek. She is from China, and has no earthly idea what this is all about. Another day…