Monday, April 20, 2009

FICTION: I Summon You

Well, this may not be any shorter/lighter than my earlier post about Columbine, but it's something. Written in response to Marc's Daily Writing Practice prompt from Thursday, April 16, 2009: Take the first two lines from a song, and use them as the first lines in your writing. I chose "I Summon You" by Spoon, because it was the first song that popped into my head. I hope you enjoy it.

Comments/criticism/feedback -- it's always welcome. :)

I Summon You

Spoon - I Summon You

Remember the weight of the world? It's a sound that we used to buy on cassette and 45, you and me driving aimlessly down highways at night, listening to songs written before we were born. My hand on the gearshift, your feet hanging out the open window. We smoked pilfered cigarettes and sang about fortunate sons, gold dust women, and answers blowing in some distant, unknown wind. We sang and smoked until our throats were raw, but we didn't care. We never cared.

We didn't care because we didn't know. How could we? We were just kids. We listened to Bob Dylan because no one else did. We screamed along with Johnny Rotten about anarchy, but we didn't get the concept. When airy pop music by Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys took over the radio, we turned to Britpop and shouted with Jarvis Cocker about how we were common people, never realizing how much money our parents actually made.

After all, it was just music. We liked it because it was pretty. We liked the delicacy of Neil Young's voice, the raging guitars of the Rolling Stones. We loved that great opening rift to The Doors' "Touch Me," you drumming your fists on the dashboard of my shitty old Celica as the song built to a crescendo. The first time you played me Joni Mitchell, I thought she wrote that song about you – you, so beautiful, so deeply ingrained into my heart that I thought you would always be as constant as a northern star. You would always be there, right beside me, and the world would always be just a set of lyrics we didn't need to understand.

And then we grew up.

Remember the weight of the world? It's more than just a sound now, and we can't drive away from it anymore. It's everywhere, blaring from television screens and radios, printed in bold ink on the front pages of newspapers. Terrorists reducing skyscrapers to rubble. Teenagers shooting up schools. Wars we can't win, enemies we can't fight, natural disasters sinking cities, economies falling to pieces, and I feel it all. I feel it all, and God, how I wish I didn't.

I still drive, you know. On those long, restless nights when the worries get to be too much (how will we pay the bills, how can we make ends meet, how can the world be so different than what we thought it was), I leave my wife alone in bed, get in my newer (but still shitty) car, and drive. I take the roads we used to take together, those long, winding highways, and I smoke the cigarettes we used to smoke together.

And I listen to our songs.

I get them now. Experience will do that for a person, I suppose. I think of my brother in rehab, and I know about the needle and the damage done. I know why Dylan used to rasp about war pigs, and I ache for the unfortunate sons who come back from foreign countries without arms or legs or faces. I hear the words and they rattle in my bones, tense and aching, and I wish I was just a kid again. I wish it was just music, like it used to be. I wish …

But oh, where are you tonight? Where is my northern star, my constant in the darkness? Why aren't you here with me, your bare feet catching breezes from the open window, your fingers curled around your cigarettes? Where is your laughter? Where is your voice? Don't you see that I need you? That it was you who made me feel so light? Can't you understand that it was you who kept the world from touching us?

I don't know. I don't know much of anything these days. I thought it was supposed to be different. I thought I'd have the answers by now. But the answers I have only make me hurt, and if this is what growing up is like, I'd rather just be with you again.

So come home. Come back to me. Make me feel young again. Make me who I used to be, before I understood too much, before the world crept in, before the music started killing me. There's still a place for you here, nestled into the passenger seat, stitched into my heart. I need you. I beg you. I've got the weight of the world now, and I summon you here with my love.

But you never come, and the music never stops.


Ian said...

I like that. I like Joni mitchell too.

PersicaPit said...

Ian - Thanks! I'm glad you liked it - and it's hard not to fall in love with Joni Mitchell's voice. She's truly one of the greats. :)

septembermom said...

Another well written piece. I like this confessional/inner dialogue rhythm. Many phrases are wonderful: stitched into my heart, my constant in the darkness, before the world crept in. Keep writing!!

Dan Felstead said...

I have found a new blog to follow! I was in college from '67 to '72...I take it that was long before your were born. I recognize all the Dylan, CCR, Young etc. references in your post and your take on how music is viewed when we are young and how it is viewed as we get older is very poignant. This is one of those posts that I read twice...first to enjoy and then to reflect. There is a song by Tom Rush called "Child's Song". Strange thing happened the other day to me...I had not heard it since 1972. At that time I strongly identified with the child...this time I strongly identified with the parent in the song. Wiping the tears while listening...I don't think I could listen to it again.


PersicaPit said...

septembermom - Thank you so much! I love "confessional" stories - there's a sense of urgency and intimacy when you're writing them, like you're desperately trying to convey a message to someone. Your encouragement to keep writing is very, very much appreciated - I will if you will! ;)

Dan - Awww! And here I am, just following your blog, too! ;)

Your comments in particular here are really, really wonderful, because this was the exact feeling I was trying to convey with this piece. When I first heard "I Summon You," it reminded me of a time back in 2001, when I heard some late '90s pop song on the radio and realized that the world was a different place than when I first heard the song. It just broke my heart. I ended up bawling behind the steering wheel all the way home. It wasn't even a song I'd LIKED, but the realization that I'd never hear that song the way I did just a couple of years earlier made me sad in ways I'd never felt before. I've never listened to that song again.

It's so funny - we grow up, we find new meanings in music we'd heard all our lives, and yet somehow, we still find ourselves yearning for simpler times, when music was just music.

Post a Comment