• lenten journal: linger

    by  • February 23, 2015 • lenten journal, music • 8 Comments

    When I sent out the call for words that might be a part of my Lenten Lexicon, my friend Beth sent the word “linger.” I love the word. The online dictionary gave three definitions:

    stay in a place longer than necessary;
    spend a long time over (something);
be slow to disappear or die.

    Since last night I have stayed longer with and spent a long time over a song that found me many years ago. When I lived in Fort Worth I spent almost as much time perusing the record and CD bins at Sound Warehouse as I did at my own place. New music came out every Tuesday, so I usually dropped by on my way home from work to see what had arrived. On August 22, 1989 I found two records that have been a part of the soundtrack of my life ever since: Shawn Colvin’s Steady On and David Wilcox’s, which may be the best title for a first record ever.

    The last track on the Wilcox record is a song called “The Kid.” From the first time I heard it I was captured by the longing, hope, adventure, and sadness in the song. There’s a burning inside when I listen to it, a sense that some ships have sailed and yet there are others still to come. I’m not done just yet.

    I’m the kid who ran away with the circus
    now I’m watering elephants
    but I sometimes lie awake in the sawdust
    dreaming I’m in a suit of light
    late at night in the empty big top
    I’m all alone on the high wire
    look he’s working without a net this time
    he’s a real death defy-er

    I’m the kid who always looked out the window
    failing tests in geography
    but I’ve seen things far beyond just the schoolyard
    distant shores of exotic lands
    they’re the spires of the Turkish Empire’s
    six months since we made landfall
    riding low with the spice of India
    through Gibraltar, we’re rich men all

    I’m the kid who thought we’d someday be lovers
    always held out that time would tell
    time was talking, I guess I just wasn’t listening
    no surprise, if you know me well
    as we’re walking toward the train station
    there’s a whispering rainfall
    across the boulevard, you slip your hand in mine
    in the distance the train calls

    I’m the kid who has this habit of dreaming
    sometimes gets me in trouble too
    but the truth is, I could no more stop dreaming
    than I could make them all come true

    Who knows how many times I’ve listened to the song over the years and sung along, particularly when it comes to sailing around Gibraltar. I love the image of passing the rock with such a sense of triumph. And I love the whole idea of saying, “Remember the kid who sat staring out the window?— that’s me”—much like the kid in Guy Clark’s “The Cape” (which I have referenced more than once on this blog):

    old and grey with a flour sack cape tied all around his head
    still climbing up on the garage and will be till he’s dead
    everyone around him said he’s acting like a kid
    he did not know he could not fly and so he did

    Sound Warehouse may not be here any more, but iTunes has a feature that says something like “customers who listened to this also bought . . .” that is as close to being a digital equivalent to digging through record store bins as they can get. One of the names that popped up under someone I was listening to was Buddy Mondlock, who happens to be the one who wrote “The Kid” all those many years ago. I found his version and was surprised to find a verse I had not heard before—and that doesn’t show up on anyone’s lyric sheet, including Buddy’s website. It came right after the verse about the circus.

    I’m just the kid who fell asleep at the movies
    snoring right through the final scene
    that’s okay ‘cause I was right there with Bogey
    side by side in the pouring rain
    it’s our last chance to make a getaway
    but it looks like I’m bleeding
    take them with you I’ll hold them off
    they won’t get by me while I’m breathing  . . .

    I would love to know what made him quit singing it. He doesn’t say a word about it on his website, but he does mention that he co-wrote a song called “The Dark” with the aforementioned Guy Clark, and it’s another one I love, which turned my lingering into meandering.

    in the dark you can sometimes hear your own heart beat
    or the heart of the one next to you
    the house settles down after holding itself up all day
    shoulder slumps, gives a big sigh
    you hear no one’s foot fall in the hall
    that drip in the kitchen sink marking time
    june bug on the window screen can’t get in but he keeps on trying
    one way or another we’re all in the dark

    fireflies, sparks, lightning, stars
    campfires, the moon, headlights on cars
    the northern lights and the milky way
    you can’t see that stuff in the day
    when the earth turns its back on the sun
    the stars come out and the planets start to run around
    now they call that day is done
    but really it’s just getting started
    some folks take comfort in that

    and how dark is it
    it’s too dark for goblins
    and how dark is it
    it’s so dark you can smell the moon
    how dark is it
    it’s so dark the wind gets lost
    how dark is it
    it’s so dark the sky’s on fire
    how dark is it
    it’s so dark you can see Fort Worth from here

    Tonight, thanks to a song that has lingered in my life and found me again, I can see Fort Worth from here—all the way back to the record store and a CD I found ten days after Ginger and I became engaged. Now less than two months from our twenty-fifth anniversary I am grateful she has lingered with me and the dreams still keep coming.



    Blogging since December 2005


    8 Responses to lenten journal: linger

    1. Louise
      February 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Wow! Thanks for THE DARK …. Great song.

      • February 23, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        Glad you liked it.


    2. christy begien
      February 24, 2015 at 8:48 am

      A lovely post, Milt! And bringing back the memory of your engagement to Ginger….a beautiful way to linger.

    3. John Deupree
      February 24, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Milton, I lived in Fort Worth, too, for two years in 1985 to 1987. I was the registrar at TCU for those two years. I liked Fort Worth, but I was too far from my family, so I moved to Cullowee and Sylva for about 8 years.

      • miltybc
        February 24, 2015 at 10:29 am

        I was at University Baptist Church across the street from campus. I’m sure we have some mutual friends.


    4. February 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

      That lyric is mind blowing! Thank you for making me aware of it.

    5. Ann Hammon
      February 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      There’s a Ray Bradbury story, Switch On the Night”, that I thought of. Nothing like the African night for some of us. I do not dream awake.

    6. March 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Milton, Wow. Thanks for the date on those purchases. I have a memory of being at the Sound Warehouse on Greenville Ave….and I’m sure it must have been around the same week…because there was a display of both Wilcox’s CD, and Shawn Colvins….I ended up buying both, and they pretty much changed my musical life.
      That CD, with it’s tempting title, “How Did You Find Me Here?” Just could not stay un-purchased.

      Rarely can I mark such a specific music epiphany…but it definitely was for me.

      Thanks for that date…as it must have been in and around that very same time.

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