My New Theme Song

1 June 2006

The Summer Plans: I had my summer all planned out. One week in New York City for the New York City Museum Tour. I was going to go to all of the major art museums and spend at least two days in MOMA, you know, to get all arted up pretty. I was also going to spend two weeks at a ski lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, in a brutal, bloody knife fight with my unfinished novel. Either I was going to kill it, or it was going to kill me. Either way, it’d be over. I was also going to spend two weeks in Las Vegas, one week in mid-June to work on my poker game and then one week in mid-July to play in a World Series of Poker event.

If you do the math, you’ll see that I was going to spend about five weeks traveling and doing stuff that I love—being an art nerd, being a wannabe fiction writer (I’m pretty sure that all of us poets think that we have at least one brilliant novel inside of us), and giving in to what I’m pretty sure is probably an undiagnosed gambling addiction—and at first I was pretty excited about what I thought was going to be a brilliant summer. (Yeah, I just used brilliant twice in one sentence. Why? Because brilliant is a brilliant word.) But, man, I was just in New York City a few months ago (getting my ass stomped by Jack Gilbert), and once a year is probably enough; besides, the museums aren’t going anywhere. And, while I love British Columbia, I’ve been there twice in the last forty months and, if I go up there and lose the knife fight with my novel (the odds are something like 60-40 in its favor), that would just be depressing and British Columbia would forever be off-limits to me. Finally, the late-June Las Vegas trip would only be about two weeks away from today, and I’m too fried and disheartened by my exhausting and soul-stealing gig to really get down at the poker table at a level that I would find acceptable.

The only part of my summer plan that still seemed like a lock after all of this introspection was the mid-July World Series of Poker trip. While I was initially a little bummed about how my plans had fallen apart, it didn’t take too long to see that I’d basically be forcing myself to do all of this other traveling when I just wasn’t into it and that I was guaranteed to not have any fun/complete my novel/lock into the art objects.

The Song in Question: But then I finally ordered a CD that had been in my Amazon cart for a long time, since November 2005. When I had put the aforementioned CD in my Amazon cart, I had intended to order it right then, but it had been unavailable at the time. No problem; I’ll wait for it to come available and purchase it at that time. Then I sort of forgot that I had wanted to order it in the first place, but a few days ago, I had finally decided to pull the trigger on buying 2046, and, very cool, the CD had finally become available. I ordered them both and they arrived last week.

I had originally decided that I wanted the CD, Talvin Singh’s O.K., after buying one of its songs from iTunes. The song, entitled Light, has been played on my laptop, as of the last count, eighty-seven times since November. The song’s also on my iPod, and I can connect said iPod to my car stereo, but most of the time I’m just too lazy, so I haven't really heard the song while I’m driving around. Mostly I just play mix CDs in my car, or really great albums where I don’t have to skip a lot of songs.

When I unwrap the CD this Saturday, I throw it into my car stereo and play the song that I’d been playing like mad on my laptop. Dude, it sounds great when it’s played at an unreasonable and un healthy volume in a car. It’s an instrumental and it’s got that great combination of a fast and propulsive and very danceable beat with a sad piano part. Then there’s a flute-like instrument that’s also sort of sad and that takes a nice solo mid-way through the song. Finally, there’s Singh’s amazing tabla playing.

Among many of the things that I regret, one of the hardest to bear is the fact that I really wanted to be a badass percussionist but that I just couldn’t pull it off. I’ve got a drum set, a djembe, an afuche, a mini-conga, and a sweet set of bongos, but they mostly go untouched. I tell myself that I’ll find the time to practice, but there’s never enough time for everything that I want to do. I’ve also got an amp and an electric guitar and a twelve-string, but one painful regret at a time.

Still, even though my djembe is currently being used as the place where I keep important correspondence, I know a little bit about percussion, and Singh can really play. The song reminds me of good jazz, a bunch of really talented players who work well together and who can take killer solos. The rest of the CD might suck, to be honest. At this point, I wouldn’t know because I’ve been obsessively playing this song ever since Saturday afternoon; the song ends and I hit the “back” button on my stereo.

The Connection?: What’s the connection, you might be asking, between my summer plans and this here song? Like I said, the song is lovely, and one of my favorite things to do is to drive around with my stereo pumping out great song after great song, and there’s a stretch of I-5 between Sacramento, California, and Richmond, Canada, that’s as beautiful a stretch of driving as I’ve ever encountered; it’s perfect for listening to great music and for driving as fast as you can get away with.

So now I’m thinking of making the two-week Whistler trip just so that I can play that song in my car as I drive between here and Whistler, maybe as I get past Sacramento and enter the curvy part of I-5 where the roads are mostly empty except for the scary and slow big rigs, maybe as I enter Oregon and start on the long climbs and steep descents through the mountainous forests and the crisp and sweet-smelling air, maybe as I drive through Portland and see the water to my right reflecting the bright summer sun, maybe as the freeway curves to the left and the Space Needle and downtown Seattle come into view, maybe a few minutes later when I get a brief glimpse of the beloved apartment that I lived in while I was in grad school and then the sad year after, maybe as Whistler finally comes into view and I know that it’s almost time to get out of my car and get back to the writerly life that I miss so much.

Yeah, the Canada trip’s back on the table.