I’m not as pretty as I was

“And you be the Captain, and I’ll be no-one” Kasey chambers, The Captain

The longest relationship I’ve ever had lasted 5 years. Well, actually, a little over 5 years. It’s with out a doubt the relationship that’s taught me the most, so I remember it well.

“Well I have handed all my efforts in, I searched here for my second wind”

It was her birthday a couple of weeks ago and I sent her an email wishing her all the best. We usually exchange emails about 2-3 times a year and birthdays are always one of those times. It got me thinking… could I remember what I gave her on any of the birthdays we were together? I could not.

“I’ve kicked myself at times because I’ve lied”

I didn’t give up, these last two weeks I kept on thinking… and a few came to mind. The last year we were together I was living abroad and I sent her a foot-long panoramic photograph. I remember the picture, she was standing pretty along a ridge that overlooked the craters of two volcanoes to her left and right. I think she liked it… Then I remembered that our first year together I gave her a reproduction of the first page of a British paper covering the fall of the Berlin Wall (a time in history I knew she particularly liked). I think she liked that as well… Finally, the last one I could remember was a fancy hour-long couple’s massage at a spa. I liked that…

“So I will have to learn to stand my ground. I’ll tell ’em I won’t be around”

So I’m happy I was able to remember 3 out of the 5, even though the massage got me thinking that I kind of mailed that one in and that I could’ve come up with something better. She was a great girl and I have absolutely no regrets of spending 5 years of my life with her. Our relationship should have ended 1 or 2 years before because we seemed to have different expectations, but we had a lot of fun and, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the relationship taught me a lot.

“And if I tread upon your feet, you just say so”

That was not the relationship I wanted, but it taught me what I want out of one. When I look back I always think it was time well spent, 5 years was a bargain when I think about what I took from the experience. Plus I met a great person, from a nice family, that I still keep in touch with today. I don’t remember the fights, the struggle of being long distance (3 out of the 5 years) or the periodic discussions on “where is this going?” whenever it came up that I might go off to work abroad. I remember the good stuff. We traveled to more than a dozen countries, shared a ton of laughs, made friends in common and enjoyed seeing each other become something better than what we were when we first met (at least in her case). There are only a few people I get really excited when I hear something great has happened to them, she is one of them.

“Did I forget to thank you for the ride”

This song is for her. Well, actually it’s for me, to remind me of her. I really like this song, but she loves it (or perhaps loved, who knows). She once told me that she listened to it occasionally when she missed me. I honestly don’t miss being with her, but I’ll take a page out of her playbook and use it to remember her… that I like doing.

“I tend to feel as though I owe one to you”

 

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I’ll show you something, to make you change your mind

“Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London” – Ralph McTell, Streets of London

I could have picked around 50 songs to help me shape a memory of my father, but Streets of London had to be my first choice. The song is by British folk singer Ralph McTell who, in all honesty, I don’t know anything about. I’d struggle in trying to name three songs of his and would ultimately end up failing. Although I do know Streets of London pretty much by heart, and it’s a damn good song. The song is basically asking people who complain how they’re able to do so with so many people around them who are worse off, so I like the lyrics as well as the melody.

“Have you seen the old man in the closed down market,
Kicking up the paper with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride, hand held loosely at his side,
Yesterday’s paper telling yesterday’s news.”

I mentioned my father before in the post where I linked Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages and he’s bound to come up more often. He’s someone I should thank regularly for the musical influence he had on me, thanks to him there was always good music playing around the house or on our family road trips. He liked folk music, classic rock, jazz, blues and a bunch of other good genres, plus he was always buying new records and CD’s so it wasn’t the same albums playing over and over again. He still loves music today and (most of the time) has a pretty good taste for it. Streets of London was his discovery and, as I mentioned before, it’s a damn good song.

“So how can you tell me, you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, 
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.”

The reason I immediately link this song to my father as soon as I hear the first few chords dates back to about six years. It’s at this point that I should mention that my father, as well as being an avid listener of good music is a self-taught guitar and piano player. He’s not a very good musician, but a musician none the less… and the only one in the family. So six years ago he picked up the score to Streets of London from a random songbook and the usual learning process began to take its natural course:

After a week…

– “Hey, come listen to this song on the piano. It’s sounding pretty good, right?”. It was not.

A few weeks later…

– “Come over, I think I’ve got it down pretty well”. He did not.

This usually goes on for about a month then he moves on to a different song, but with Streets of London it lasted more like six months. It was a struggle, for all of us. He still plays it every now and then and truth be told, if the original is a damn good song, my father’s cover on the piano is damn good too. Don’t worry, I’ve linked the original below.

“Have you seen the old girl who walks the streets of London,
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She’s no time for talking, she just keeps right on walking,
Carrying her home in two carrier bags.”