A long long time ago.
We’d spent the day in Comstock, at my uncle’s place, for a family picnic and were heading back to the farm in the long summer evening. The August air was fuzzy with heat, humidity and the assurance of storms. I sat in the back of the car, listening to AM radio on my ginormous radio headphones (one of the best Christmas presents ever, btw). Dire Straits and storm watches. Farm fields rolling by, cows and crops pressed flat to the earth by the weight of the day. Silly Love songs against a sky rouged as the sun slid towards the clouded horizon.
And then. and then. It happened. An orchestral opening; followed by gently strummed guitars and a haunted voice singing from another universe, strings rich as rainfall wavering in the mix. A panoramic chorus no companion as the song drew back down to the single voice.
“Gazing at people, some hand in hand. Just what I’m going through, they can’t understand.”
Maybe it was because the charged ionosphere rattled the signal, but each element of the song; the plaintive flute, the hushed drums, the swell of strings, the trumping horns and plucky harp, the final gong was perfectly highlighted, enhanced even, by the warp and weave of the radio waves as the song sought out the receiver in my brain.
I was completely and utterly transfixed, somewhere between the car, the ominious sky and some mysterious other world where letters were written, but not meant to send. Surfing the radio waves as the song built to a grand crescendo of strings.
Then a pause.
And the narration began; “Breath deep, the gathering gloom” sent goosebumps up and down my arms. Each line seemed equally prophetic and apropos (even if i'm not still not completely sure what it is supposed to be about), “another’s day’s useless energy spent,” spinning me into space me with the closing line, “but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion.” The song faded out but I was still held in limbo practically unable to move. Radio static filled my mind for ten seconds, no dj, no music, sky red with dread and building clouds chasing the car. But I was not even in the car. Just some other place and time, captured by the radio waves and flung into the ether for what seemed like a lifetime.
Then. In the distance. Distant electronic sounds fading in an out. A ringing telephone calling. Drawing me back into view. “Hello, how are you? have you been all right?” A lifeline offered to me from the capricious waves showing me the way back. “Hey, how you feeling?” With each verse and chorus I came a little bit closer to myself.
“Telephone line, give me some time. I’m living in twilight.”
By the fade I was back in the car, shaken and glorious for all that the seven other people had noticed my experience and absence.
We made it home just before the storm broke.
Best long song ever? “Nights in White Satin/Telephone Line” accidental mash up.