The Crooked Course

Funny how we sometimes find the things we’re looking for. The spring I turned 18 I felt it was time for some changes. I would be leaving high school and my hometown of Providence in a few months, and many of my old habits were no longer serving me. Like many teenagers, my life required a soundtrack. For two years, that soundtrack had been provided primarily by the band Pink Floyd (see my recent entry: The Wall). What I had once found profound I now experienced as maudlin and melodramatic. I needed something both brighter and deeper. Blaming the world for all your troubles simply wouldn’t do. I needed new music.

I don’t remember how I landed on the song “The Court of the Crimson King,” by the band King Crimson. I can’t even be sure I’d ever listened to it. Yet, all the same, I found myself ducking into Goldie Records with the sole purpose of buying an album that contained that song. I didn’t ask for help, though I could have. Goldie Records was run by the sort of goatee-wearing audiophiles that love to point you to obscure albums. No need, I would find it myself.

By going straight to the B’s. Remember the song was “The Court of the Crimson King” by the band King Crimson. You will not find one B anywhere in the song or band name. Yet some part of me was thinking, “It’s here somewhere.” Soon I came upon the album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars,” by David Bowie. I liked the cover of the album very much. It was a kind of doctored color photograph of Bowie on a street corner in full glam-rock regalia. I didn’t check the song list; I didn’t look for the words “Crimson” or “King” or “Court”; instead I thought, “Yes, this must be it.” I couldn’t wait to get home and listen at last to “The Court of the Crimson King.”

Unfortunately, when I got home I discovered that “Ziggy Stardust” did not in fact include the song I had been looking for. I felt strangely duped. I felt like I was always making these sorts of bizarre and easily avoidable mistakes. But I still liked the cover, so I decided to give it a listen.

You must understand the importance music played in my life at that time. I would clamp headphones over my ears and project myself into the emotional world of the songs. It was as if I was teaching myself how I wanted to live through the music’s reality. If I listened and listened and listened to it, maybe I could carry that feeling with me into the real world and live as if I were still in the songs.

So when the song “Five Years,” the album’s first track, began, and when I heard it’s lovely piano, and Bowie’s distinct voice, and the particular poetry of the lyrics, I leaned close to the speakers, and for the first and only time in my life, said aloud to whatever was listening, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

More Author Articles

Follow wdbk on Twitter