by Delia Pless
from Small Print by Justine Basa
It is a startling thing
to open one’s macbook in a coffee shop
to find Men in Black III
playing in the browser.
Well, I’d love to, but honestly, the level it still reaches me at, after years — years! — of knowing every note of it, of no longer living the sort of life about which Blue speaks, of not being the kind of seeker by and for whom Blue was made but the grown person who that seeker becomes, its consequent, its Hejira or Night Ride Home; after years of being a person for whom you’d think Blue would be a memory, however fond, instead of a living text, ever-fresh, vivid as it was the night I bought the tape (“The Nice Price”) someplace and brought it home to my tiny studio apartment in Norwalk; after all these years, still the only way I really know how to talk about Blue is to sort of just get out a notebook and start writing
I am on a lonely road and I am traveling traveling traveling
in huge letters, or
Just before our love got lost, you said
hard enough to scratch through the page, or
Child with a child pretending,
weary of lies you are sending home:
so you sign all the papers in the family name
you’re sad, and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed
and then just sit there completely wrecked, singing “you’re sad, and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed” and thinking let me write a line like that before I die, let me keep that shining beacon in sightwhile remembering that when she’s writing Blue she’s basically nailing two or three lines like that per song
Probably the best album of the 70s according to me; the only one of the major 60s Acts Everybody’s Dad Thinks Are Great who made a record I put on its level is Pink Floyd (Piper At the Gates of Dawn).
If someone were to die at the age of 63 after a lifelong battle with MS or Sickle Cell, we’d all say they were a “fighter” or an “inspiration.” But when someone dies after a lifelong battle with severe mental illness and drug addiction, we say it was a tragedy and tell everyone “don’t be like him, please seek help.” That’s bullshit. Robin Williams sought help his entire life. He saw a psychiatrist. He quit drinking. He went to rehab. He did this for decades. That’s HOW he made it to 63. For some people, 63 is a fucking miracle. I know several people who didn’t make it past 23 and I’d do anything to have 40 more years with them.
When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?
— Sandi Toksvig