When you live with a song long enough, it becomes part of your memory-scape. In our column One Song, One Story, our writers share a song, and the story it evokes in them.
Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
My uncle Joseph Murray had a biker’s build. He had a biker’s build but clement blue eyes more captivating than foreign waters. A beard that smelled remarkably like fire pits and home. He was a giant, but a gentle one. You’d never guess there was no greater force than when he locked you in his arms to say goodbye. I traipsed down the boulevard with him for breakfast in the mornings. In the evenings, we relished listening to records out longer than I had been alive. Old crowd favorites echoed through the walls of the Brooklyn duplex my grandmother owned. He would wholeheartedly sing along; it didn’t matter to me that he was off key. I tugged at my sleeves through song changes. He was a drinker, and I was young and in the dark, knowing little of his struggle. The scent of my aunt cooking dinner wafted down a flight of stairs, calling us up without the aid of words. Joseph would flick open a crisp beer and reset the pin on the vinyl. We stayed downstairs, resisting the smell, planning instead to get burgers. He’d been raving about a place that serves your burgers on English muffins. Bob Dylan played in the background, subconsciously letting settle in that I was just as much of a Rolling Stone as my uncle. I laid back on the couch, letting each chord seep in through every orifice in my body. I allowed myself to be meek and small around him. He was my protector, wishing only good for me and pushing me thoughtfully in the right direction. You could feel it in the air around him that he was a healer, someone meant to last lifetimes, even if only in memories.
How does it feel
To be on your own
Today I drive aimlessly down unfortunately familiar routes. I finely weave through traffic and piles of wet leaves and potholes. The rains clouds clear slightly, the sun edging out through passing clouds. I have no destination, just the sole desire to drive out of my comfort zone. The news still stinging, I veer one way then another, letting my car take its own course. My favorite uncle has passed too young and I can’t stand the reality of it. The good leave us untimely and without tact, I think. No, not think, know. We all know.
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?