You were the background music and accompaniment
by Tony Jolley
To my first, and as history would have it, only real love.
Our lips touched to ‘Something Fine’s ‘You say Morocco’.
Her hand nonchalantly, desperately upon my thigh in the car,
Windows down, hair in the summer breeze,
Alive and vocal to ‘Runnin’ on Empty’ and ‘Rosie’,
We were living the story you were yet to write:
Turning pages we were years from the learning.
We had no barricades in our heaven, Jaks,
But I built one anyway called:
It would be better for both our sakes
To which there was no earthly redemption she might bring.
‘Stay’, your loving anthem, I turned to our mournful retreat:
An emblem of what might, no, should have been,
Retiring over some rational hill and out of earshot
Yet still within the reach of one
Who should have recognised himself as The Pretender
And turned himself in.
We had sung it so often – had it down word-for-word
Yet still I failed to see it: the pretender in me.
We fell in love to you,
Loved to you.
I lost her to you,
Gave her up to you:
Saw our future evaporate into history to the strains of you.
You stayed friends with the both of us,
Though we fell out of touch with each other
Yet not out of wondering, not ever out of yearning.
Your grand career continued as our shared and singular life’s soundtrack.
She held on to some of your vinyl and my trusty 12-string:
Talismen of forlorn hope or faith?
Time would tell.
We ‘wrote’ to you in our loss and lack
And you replied with tender comforts
Of ‘Shape of a Heart’ and ‘Call it a Loan’:
Never quite healing, but keeping alive the possibility of ‘interest’ repayment.
I, we, have to confess that we deserted you too at times
For the exquisite pains of Linda’s ‘Prisoner in Disguise’
And Karla’s ‘Water is Wide’ and ‘Someone to Lay Down Beside Me’,
Still….we always came back to you, you know.
By then we were separated
By continents and commitments of twenty years standing;
Yet you sang us together again after my years of searching
‘Had come up torn and empty’:
She found me - her heart had been ‘looking for mine’ all the time.
The time? Well I had just bought tickets for your Bournemouth gig
(remember you saw a film before the show?) .
Le premier pas – j’aim’rais qu’Elle fasse le premier pas
Out of your ‘Sky Blue’ and into the ‘Black’ where my life languished,
She found me -
Found me in time.
Our hopeful hearts rubbed shoulders online, on the telephone.
First we talked in code
Using your lines as our own
To find our feet and our voices
Which surely brought us to that point of no return,
That Rubicon of admission, confession and absolution.
It was mine to swim to her;
So like her, she chose to meet me half way across
In the deepest and most dangerous curl of the current.
The pretender received more forgiveness than he deserved,
His tears filling the pitcher of his Lady of the Well to overflowing
With his life, love and future.
Now the ‘Naked Ride Home’
Is no longer an event we shared in our history, Jaks,
Not a blessed, painful memory,
But a truth.
On our ride home, which will take us a lifetime,
We both are become transparent to one another again,
Yet this time the moreso: known. Utterly known.
Do you know Mary-Chapin’s ‘Naked to the Eye’:
‘When you look at me Baby, I haven’t got a prayer, naked to the eye.’?
Home is naked now, not merely the ride.
Now ‘Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate’ of regret
No longer preys upon my troubled slumbers.
The past is truly another country,
The future is guaranteed to none,
But the present,
The present, Jaks,
Is ours to sing with you
Now that together we live, we love, we am.
One day, if you don’t mind, (and even if you do)
When she and I are together in a place not unlike Isla Negra
Where watches can be cast into the sea of pointlessness,
Then we will play ‘Stay’ no more.
Till then it will underscore our stolen moments:
Borrowed and brought forward from this future
To accompany our longing, our desperation for one another,
Just as it always did.
We began together with you, Jaks.
We came together again on an English summer hillside:
We two, a blanket, a guitar and you:
Your anthology and our history.
‘To the Dust’, Jaks, ‘To the Dust’ is our toast to you,
But this is our song in the writing: hers and mine….
One day we’ll play it for you.