This weekend Ray and I headed out to California to visit our mothers in the greater Los Angeles area. Having grown up there, we both dread visits to the land of smog, traffic and memories of the past.
We arrived at Ray’s mother’s house late on Thursday. Exhausted, I crashed after a late dinner accompanied by several glasses of wine.
The next morning, I hopped in the car and made my way to Thousand Oaks to visit my mother. It was one of those rare LA mornings with the sun shining brightly and not a hint of smog. There must have been some recent precipitation as there was a green hue covering the mountains. It was spectacular. It was also in the high 80’s.
Just as I got on the freeway on-ramp, I popped the Cocteau Twins album Blue Bell Knoll into the CD player and immediately selected track three, Carolyn’s Fingers. The reverbed guitar intro and Elizabeth Fraser’s ethereal vocals combined with the newness of the day worked together so well that for a fleeting moment I almost wished I lived there again.
<<cue sound of needle scratching off a record>>
I quickly came to my senses. I don’t like LA. When I left 15 years ago, I left behind a part of myself that I didn’t care for anymore. Whenever I go back, that old self starts tapping on my shoulder in an attempt to drag me back into the despair of a twenty-something boy named Bob. I turned the CD player up as loud as it could go and decided to enjoy my little LA moment knowing full well that by the end of the weekend, I’d be back in Arizona a forty-something man named Cobban.
This morning as I rushed off to work, I had a hankering for track three. I was excited that Obama was about to take the oath of office and couldn’t help feeling that this really was the dawn of a new day. Once again, Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals combined with the heavily reverbed guitars conjured up mental images of clouds parting, birds flying, angels rejoicing and a sun shining so brightly that I started to giggle. Then I started to laugh. Before I knew it, I was shedding tears of joy. The days of George W. Bush are over. I had not realized how oppressed I felt under his reign until it ended. I was laughing and crying so hard I almost had to pull off the road.
Good-bye George you motherfucker. Eat shit and die–no, eat shit and live. How’s it taste?
Hello Barack, please make things better. I don’t expect you to fix it all but I do expect you to fix it.
This song is for today. Ms. Fraser’s vocal style makes it impossible to understand the lyrics but in this case, it doesn’t matter what she’s singing about. What matters is that the music itself–for me–evokes feelings of a new beginning.
Special thanks to Rick for reminding me just how much I love this album. Turn it up, close your eyes and imagine…