It has to be quick tonight, my writing. I have other things to do before a bedtime reading of James and the Giant Peach to my son. I don’t think I can fit in another short piece about Detroit. Maybe I can. I don’t think I will.
In the morning, Jared sets up the Ridgid boom box so we can listen to music as we work outside. I had put on the Shangri-Las last time we listened to music, and their tunes continue this morning. Oh, my heart is so soft for the teenagers in the Shangri-Las’ songs.
As I enter into Hoophouse 2 a gnat flies into my eye, and “Leader of the Pack” of the pack comes on, a song about a girl’s love affair with a motorcycle gang member. The story, like all Shangri-Las songs that I know, ends tragically.
The girl breaks up with the Leader of the Pack. Her Dad made her. This motorcycle boy was from the wrong side of town. Nope, says Dad. Vrroom, vrroom goes a motorcycle engine in the background. The singers, sisters Mary and Betty Weiss talk-sing:
“He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
Whether he heard
I'll never know”
Screech of motorcycle wheels, and you know how it ends. I cry. I cry each time I hear this song.
"I Can Never Go Home Anymore" comes on next. Another woeful young love story, in which a parent makes a teen girl split from a boy. In this song, the girl runs away, but sours on the boy quickly. She spends the rest of the song lamenting the loss of her mother’s love. Her mother, of course, dies.
“Do you ever get that feeling and want to kiss and hug her? Do it now
Tell her you love her. Don't do to your mom what I did to mine. She grew so lonely
In the end. Angels picked her for a friend.”
I cry again.
Then, Jared puts on the Sticky Fingers album by the Rolling Stones. After “Wild Horses”, Jared asks me what cheerful music we could listen to.
““Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves?” I ask.
“Huh?” Jared replies.
“I’m walkin’ on sunshine, whoa oh. I’m walkin’ on sunshine…” I sing.
“Oh, yeah. Like that, but something else,” he says.
As I evict more native plants from plug trays for potting up, Jared searches for more music.
“Well, Black Sabbath Vol. 4 might not be exactly what we need, but here we go,” he says. “It’s the one with “Changes” on it.”
“Oh,” I murmur.
Song three comes on. I hear Tony Iommi open the song on piano. If you know the song, you can hear it now. “Changes”
“I feel unhappy, I feel so sad,” Ozzy sings.
“Yes, Ozzy, and it’s your fault,” I sing along as my tears are flowing. I am covered in potting mix and tears. My hair is in a fuzzy bun, I have a cheap sundress on, and I am weeping.
I look up at Jared who’s eyes are a glassy. He laughs at my joke. At my state.
Our day is filled with musings on getting by, making music and art, and why is everything so good and so f/cked at the same time. It has been twenty years of these conversations, just Jared and me.
As I hear Ozzy sing, “Wish I could go back, and change these years”, I my heart spasms, and I feel a lump in my throat. I wouldn’t change these years. Maybe I’d have been nicer or richer. Maybe I would have changed some things, but it seems no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how you feel, things just go the way they go. It seems.