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a snapshot of time

(Originally published in Rock Cellar Magazine.)

It was late May 2010 when I found myself en route from Chicago to Louisville, encased in a bubble speeding through warm air and hazy sunshine.

My friend Zoran was behind the wheel of his little black VW, and I sat brimming with the quiet peace that comes with adventure, with the anticipation of seeing some of my favourite people and one of my favourite bands. It was a last minute free flight from Los Angeles that got me there, the unexpected nature of which always leaving me shaking my head – the wonder of the destination of a new city, the blessing of friendships and possibilities.

Greg Brown, Zoran told me as we zoomed along, is one of the very best American songwriters. I had to experience this right now. As he pushed Further In into the CD player he mentioned ties personal and emotional –-as you do when you’re trying to put your love for art into words–- in a rush of senseless and silly sounds: The moment he and a friend of ours discovered their mutual love. His wife and the track Hey Baby Hey.

As the flatlands of Indiana blurred past and I took in Greg’s rustic baritone and heart-tugging slide guitar I understood America in a way I hadn’t before. I am always running to foreign lands, with my feet, my ears, my heart. Take me away to the little green islands way up north. Give me their music. The Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd, The Frames, The Who, Peter Gabriel…

This was different. Or rather, same result, different landscape. In here I heard the semi-familiar but uncharted sights I saw outside the window. I felt the land and the history of the Americas, heard our musical forefathers. Dylan, Guthrie, Cash, Cohen. I appreciated something about my country I never before knew to.

Then with the low, feathery growl of the words to Someday When We’re Both Alone I felt something else in there, something frozen and burning, something of acceptance and longing, of curiosity and knowledge. I fell silent while my nerve endings buzzed.

This is the one, I said. This is the one.

This is the dazed and dizzy sensation I still get when I hear his plaintive enumeration of questions and facts. I still see the tree-lined highway rushing past. This is music at its best: as a snapshot of time, as a casting of your heart.

someday when we’re both alone we’ll get together someday when we’re both alone we’ll find out if our dreams are all that they seem find out if our place is a home

a long long time I been, ah, lookin’ at you long time you been lookin’ at me most times it’s just, “hey, how ya doin’?” sometimes I get so weak in my knees

someday when we’re both alone …

rain don’t always fall when we want it you know the sun don’t always shine I ain’t sure what I read in your eyes when they look so deep into mine

someday might’ve come, someday might’ve gone someday may never be the one I wonder if you wonder as the years go along I said I wonder

someday when we’re both alone …

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