Chapter Two - One Song
It was one of the last things Wires said to me the day I’d met him and chatted about the old days. “One song,” he said. It had been somewhere between a puff and a blink of his eyelids over a freshly lit cigarette. I had been there at his invitation, to enjoy the opulence of the lifestyle and the man’s company. He’d traveled a different road than us and been successful at it too the lucky bugger. I had inhaled the moment and held my breath, hoping it wouldn’t end while I listened intently, digesting every word. After all, I had nowhere else to be.
I was inspired by what he had to say, but not in the way he envisioned. Wires urged me to return to the music business. Give it another shot. Know for sure. Conclusive, perhaps the word he used? I don’t remember precisely. But instead I had written. I had gone home and banged away on the computer keyboard til my fingers hurt and my mind was empty. It had been a collection of short stories and novellas mostly. What can I say? I was caught up in the moment. I’d thought what I was writing was absolute brilliance, simple genius, like adding cream to coffee except I still drank mine black. I remember reading my maven material the next morning with shock and revulsion. Suddenly the adept story of a time-traveling green bean didn’t seem so plausible even from a child’s perspective. There would be no need to send out queries and wait for a long line of rejections to surely come. However, I had awakened the long dormant seeds of creativity and felt purpose in their growth. So I kept at it.
“All it takes is one song Sparky.”
Perhaps with the music I’d felt it had run its course— jumped the shark, to borrow a Hollywood term. Or maybe I knew how much work it would entail and simply procrastinated? I think deep down I was afraid. The fear of failure. To me, getting rejected as a writer, a vocation I had no idea about, made a lot more sense than being torpedoed over something I put my heart and soul into for so many years.
Over the past weeks I’d been thinking a lot about Wires and his accomplishments— his discipline to achieve success without pretension— his ability to be down to earth, twenty floors up. Now I wanted to set the record straight. Like he’d said, know for sure, take the leap of faith. In his own way Wires had removed a lot of the obstacles for me, taken away the reasons and excuses to not pursue it. If it meant putting my ass out there to fail, so be it. At least I could move on with clear conscience and peace of mind. Even without Wires in my life he was still fixing things, just like he’d done all those years ago when he’d been the sound-man for the band I’d played in. I could still see him in my mind’s eye, twirling knobs, boosting equalizers and repairing flash-pots. I could see him peering through those mop-like bangs of his, getting us out of the tight spots and log jams that impeded forward progression. The man had been forever restoring equipment and our lives to a working order.
“All it takes is one song . . . and it doesn’t have to be a good one either.”
He was right. There were songs I hated, yet hummed ad-nauseam, like the song for the feminine fresh feeling and the one for home improvement products. I couldn’t even remember the precise items being pitched but I knew those damn jingles. I guess it goes back to what our manager had said, “Be hated or loved, nothing in between.” — his little mantra from his list of little mantras. With me however, I would have to be loved. I would settle for nothing less. It would need to be something special, something memorable, a time capsule to instantly transform people back to the point in their life when they heard it for the first time. A song like, Boys of Summer . . . or, Back in Black . . . Songs forever trapped and churning in the grey-matter rapids of the populace brainpan.
“Write the damn song already Sparky!”
I could hear Wires almost shouting it in my head now, which was strange, because in all my memories of the man I rarely heard him raise his voice. But who was I kidding? The business had twisted and corrupted, changing further from when I’d been mired in the bog of its malodor. It was all product placement, movie soundtrack tie-ins, and hundred dollar concert tickets now. A business where the executive collective huddled like nuclear scientists in their impenetrable bunkers developing new technologies. Revenue streams to render the current obsolete and sell you the same shit over and over and over.
Many times I had been close to making a dent in the webs of success, but like a would-be thief, I’d never made off with the money. I was always apprehended two steps from freedom. The very spot which had tended the garden of a blooming career was now a million miles away in all directions. It was a spot you didn’t blatantly decided to leave. You had to be definitive, choose to walk away with foresight and perhaps a little malice. I had chosen.
Now with my time removed on the outside, I could see all the mistakes and blown opportunities. Wipe the age-caked dust and dirt from those rose colored glasses—
“— SPARKY !”
“Stop wasting your time with all this mumbo-jumbo. Follow your gut and write the freekin’ song!”
This time Wires had given me a new attitude and cause to chase down the rainbow. I had to know one way, or the other, if it was meant to be. Right place, right time? I was going to make it the right place and the right time. I was going to dig the extra two feet to find gold, step over the line of freedom to daylight, glimpse the success or, if ordained, the black hole of failure. Wires was the closest I had been to someone who had achieved celebrity and I wanted to breathe the air— which I guess would be the air of stale cigarettes, but I digress. I wanted to know with an unquestionable absolute, this was the way it would be. I was going to do whatever it took.
I owed Wires that much, and Doc would be the first one I spoke to.