Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour)

So, so you think you can tell/ Heaven from Hell,/ Blue skys from pain./ Can you tell a green field /From a cold steel rail?/ A smile from a veil? /Do you think you can tell?

 And did they get you to trade /Your heros for ghosts? /Hot ashes for trees? /Hot air for a cool breeze? /Cold comfort for change?/ And did you exchange /A walk on part in the war For a lead role in a cage? /

How I wish, how I wish you were here. /We’re just two lost souls /Swimming in a fish bowl, /Year after year, /Running over the same old ground. /What have we found? /The same old fears. /Wish you were here.

This was on the radio this morning.  And it took me back. 

When I turned 24, we went down to the Walkabout in Shepard’s Bush and planned a night of debauchery to celebrate my birthday. Snake bites and too-dry biltong. The long even light of a London Summer. And the babel-sound of a hundred antipodean voices. We got there early. To take advantage of the happy hour special and to avoid the queues. To fit in more drinking, more forgetting of home.

On the stage was the night’s entertainment, a solo singer who held a guitar. He was talking to the stage manager and cueing the lighting guy. His jeans were torn and he had that look of a man who has gambled and lost.

I was full of insouciance and youthful aggression. I drank great gulps of the red, vaguely sweet pint and waited for the man to nod his beginning. And as he did, his fingers called the cords of “Wish you were Here”.

And like a switch, the great walls of my brave, very alone self crumbled and tears washed down my cheeks. My mates rolled their eyes and wondered if I was drunk on one “bite”.

But it was the music. Those opening bars, filled with the ache of a mundane life. A life without. A lead role in a cage. A longing I almost don’t understand. Yearning. Verlang. An unarticulated, unacknowledged pain that’s harder and deeper and more dangerous than the surface self.

Music has always had that power over me. In dark at the ballet. The theatre. The movie house. In the dark of my living room, with only a bottle of wine for companionship. The soaring swell of a Mozart concerto. The low dirge of an addagio. The self deprecating loss in a rock ‘n roll love song.

I can manipulate my own emotion with music. Cry, laugh, rant, revel or howl. Whatever I feel like, moment to moment. And I wonder at that; at how easily the emotion rises. How quickly it wells into my eyes and my hands and the pit of my belly. How close to the surface the melee must be, for it to be so quickly accessed. Whether it’s a shallow paganism.

In EB recently, I saw a book called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks about how we’re a musical species. And I nodded to myself. I must read that book.

But today, though, today, as the tears caught me unawares again as those beautiful bars coursed through the car, I just wished you were here.


12 thoughts on “Wish You Were Here

  1. 302 says:

    Never got into Pink Floyd, the was one song about the ‘nips who were so good at making ships…’

    But while I can’t relate to Walters and Gilmour, I can relate and react to the sweet nostalgia that music emotes amongst other things.

    From my first Aplhaville seven single “Big in Japan” I was hooked and it’s continued to shape my being. I think have a propensity to be emotionally moved by certain mediums is probably more unusual than it is usual, it’s something that lasts.

    I don’t have a long commute so I always try to listen to something different, this morning it was ‘Deep into it’ by St Germain and it took me back to many a warm evening, loitering outside the cobbled pavement of the Magnet with my best friend, listening Nick and Bruno play Mo Funk classics and later at night when it loosen up a bit they’d drop that “monster!” deep house track.

    Then I f..k arrived to Monday morning a note that there was not water in the kettles and toilets. And that was a completely different emotion.

  2. dolceii says:

    You! I knew you’d get this. How the music can speak to you in tongues that don’t have mouths.

    Speaking of which, my father asked me again who this 302 is, and where he can get more of his albums. I think you’re going to have to send me a list of stuff to placate him with. A buyers guide, if you will.

    You should post some of your music reviews on blogblok…I know there a couple of guys there that would really get into them. Double postings.

    Someone shared some St. Germain with me in London. Me like!

  3. kyknoord says:

    I hear you. I have about 12 years’ worth of music that I can’t listen to because the memories have sharp edges.

  4. dolceii says:

    Kyk have you seen that Sacks book? I reckon you’d enjoy it.

    And ja. If I want to have a good old cathartic driz, out comes the 80s rock ballads. Love Bites, Crazy, Never tear us apart….get me every time.

  5. 302 says:

    Well there is a vault of the Tuesdays@Marvel stuff a 10 disc set. But working on a couple “beat” mixed compilations for the season with DJ Zero (we occassionally do this under the pen names of dj’s butterfield and conniff), one will be the sounds of twilight (which I think he’ll like) and the other will be electronica which is probably not your father’s cup of tea. So patience for the moment.

    And I think you should demystify it though for him and tell – him it’s the number on the letterbox and the door, hence the words and sounds of 302.

    And, and, and can’t do the blogbok it’s to communal but they can come read the reviews on the 302 site.

  6. dolceii says:

    @ 302

    The Sounds of Twilight….I like, I like!

    Nah, no demystifying him…he likes it. And I like it.

    Yeah… ok…will link furiously then.

    @ Crayola Dude

    Huh? You’re less than three Wyclefs? Aaaaah. Emoticon. I worked it out. You “heart” Wyclef. God, I’m such a legend. He covered this song, didn’t he? Ja. I like his dreads.

  7. Oh man, I know I know that song but I cannot think of what it sounds like. The lyrics are ringing some subconscious pained bell though. Argh. Frustration is.

    And it’s good we got you back from London!

  8. dolceii says:

    @ Champers. It’s a Pink Flloyd ditty. Gorgeous. And there was no way I could stay in London Town…that Africa song by Toto set me off that night too, if I recall. Maybe I was going through my quarter life crisis!

  9. crayola dude says:

    COVERED the song?

    I thought he wrote it. 😦

  10. dolceii says:

    Crayola….*shock* *horror*.

    Go forth and find Pink Flloyd my wax headed friend. Start with the Wall and work your way to the Final Cut (which, admittedly, I’ve only just discovered).

    Wyclef wrote it. Ppppfffffft.

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