Monday, 25 August 2008

Be Gone

It is a freezing September night in Melbourne. I am running late for 161. Again. My friend sends me an anxious text message: "You better get here quick. He's got a mix tape for you and he's getting upset that you're not here!" It is surprising as I had only spoken to him a few times before. When we first met, he had drawn a map of England on my leg in an attempt to understand where East Yorkshire was. I later learned this was just a ploy to touch my leg - he didn't have a genuine need to know where East Yorkshire was. In retrospect, I can scarcely believe it. He was such a beautiful creature, he was too beautiful to waste his time with me.

I finally arrive at 161. I climb the stairs cautiously and spot his silhouette immediately. I am too nervous to approach, even though I have the perfect excuse to speak to him. I am holding a mix cd that I had made for him weeks before. The tracklist is recorded in perfect hand on a piece of note paper, pressed inside the CD cover. I can only suspect what pieces of my musical self I handed over to the stranger at that point. I'm Happy Just to Dance With You. You've Given Me Something That I Can't Give Back. Scummy. All Day and All the Night. All the songs I have the distinct tendency to live and die by.

I approach and we say nothing for the first few moments. I press the CD up against his chest. He grabs my hand and slots a cassette case and tape into my grasp. It was all so dramatic, but then it always was. On the lined paper cover of his cassette, there are two great question marks, written in blue biro. He would later justify the lack of tracklist. He claimed that he wanted me to listen to the songs without prior judgement of the artists. It seems silly now that he'd think I'd have any negative misconceptions about these artists.. after all, we would spend the next few months waxing lyrical about these artists for hours upon hours each day.

Yet, despite this, he always insisted that he felt so musically isolated. He would cite this particular song off the A side of that very mixtape, a song by the Jesus and Mary Chain. How nobody could possibly understand how much Sidewalking moved him. How he would listen to it over and over and revel in its beauty. I remember listening to it while sitting at my desk. I would listen to his tape in earnest, purposefully trying to find this beauty he spoke so eloquently about. Then I found it...

I would rewind this song over and over again. I didn't have his ability to afford the song with any sort of vastly romanticised description, but I understood why he loved it.. and with this declaration, he finally sent me the tracklisting of the mixtape. It was then that I discovered that the song that I fell in love with was not Sidewalking by the Jesus and Mary Chain, but Be Gone by the British Sea Power.

I knew that I felt nothing for Sidewalking. The song did absolutely nothing for me. But I would always return to Be Gone as an ironic reminder of our connection.. or at least my witless ambition to understand his ways.

British Sea Power - Be Gone

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