Monday, February 19, 2007

Every Now and Then I Fall Apart

Charlton, London, England. February 15, 2007. A Bedroom. My eyes popped open and a voice in my head sang, "Turn around...."

Charlton, London, England. February 14, 2007. This year I started off Valentines day by taking down a half bottle of champagne with a late breakfast. We'd just moved into a new flat in Charlton, and fulfilling every expectation I could possibly have of a letting agency, the flat had not been cleaned and there was no hot water. Champagne seemed like the only answer. Beer seemed like the answer at midday. Wine was definitely the answer all evening long.

In the midst of all this a music video TV station was airing the 100 Greatest Love Songs of All Time. As one might imagine this made for very entertaining TV. Example 1: did you know that in the video for "Nothing Compares" Sinead O'Conner's ears wiggle whenever she hits the big notes? Its actually very scary as the bulk of the video is a close up of her face and those dreadful ears to which nothing compares. Example 2: Meatloaf in "I Would Do Anything For Love" is he supposed to be a vampire or the Hunchback of Notre Dame?

But it was down somewhere in the forties that I found myself watching the most psychedelic bit of footage ever released: the video for Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Trippier than anything they ever attempted to film in the 1960s or 1970s, it is a night time fantasy in which Bonnie Tyler sings amongst ninjas, football players, men dressed like John Travolta in Staying Alive, and choir boys. The freaky choir is led by a young boy who has "bright eyes," which is more than metaphorical as he looks like he has sun flares emitting from them. I was well into the wine by the time the video came on and I found myself transfixed by the song and the images and the history...

Athens, Georgia. Summer 2006. Walker's Pub. Karaoke is a terrible sport. You get there sober and all the people that can sing are passing the book around. Then the pressure begins with the inevitable "what are you going to sing?" You excuse yourself to avoid the question and go to the bar. You do this multiple times. Soon you are no longer avoiding the question but seriously looking at the Karaoke book scanninf for a song that is more or less keyless. More pressure mounts as you know the deadline to get your entry in is up coming. You know that you can't live with not being part of the fun, but you'd like to let the deadline pass so you can escape without another miserable "I Shot the Sheriff" experience. You excuse yourself to go the bar again. Now though your thinking is muddled and you find that pen and paper in your hand and you are scribbling words that you will regret and blaming tequilla for this transgression. You think hard. Only one song is in your mind "Tuuurnnn Arrround..." Then your musical wife is agreeing to a duet. You are saved as all you have to do is sing "Turn around" she'll "need you more than ever" and "we'll never be wrong together..."

Cambridge, England. Summer 2003. Pub Unknown. Karaoke night. I'd been drinking pints for quite some time and been dragged to Karaoke. I have been babbling at the table and avoiding answering the question: "So, what are you going to sing?" (the correct answer is, "nothing...if you are lucky"). I look over and a man takes the stage. He is small and when he sings it it is flat and monotonal, but he is singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Within seconds of the first "turn around..." the whole bar is singing. This was the night that a bitter sweet romance began between Bonnie Tyler and me.

The next day it was stuck in my head. Throbbing there. I realized though that the only words I could remember were "turn around." I walked around for the rest of the day singing: "Tuuuuurn Arround nananananaaana Tuuuuurn Arrrroud...." Soon I learned another fact about my new favorite song. Regrettably, if I woke up with the words "turn around" racing through my head I would be in for a hellish hangover. This lasted the summer and I never bothered to learn the words. I made for a strange sight at the Buttery of Downing College. Greenish pale, matted greasey hair, bloodshot eyes, and hovering over a plate of beans on toast in a Zen like trance while trying to use the bit of Yoga that I learned in my Introduction to Acting Class to control my internal functions and conquer breakfast and quietly humming my mantra "Churn around...."

Marks, Mississippi. Spring 2004. Tio Pepe's Mexican Restaurant. Karaoke night in a small small town. Kathryn is begging the Karaoke Man for the last song, which she dedicates to me. I sway as she begins to crack each note. I think that she is singing it poorly because she is jealous of Bonnie. "I need you more tonight, I need you more than ever..." The bar quickly empties as she implores the people paying their bill to dance "because it is my birthday" (it was not her birthday). I turn around and am the only other person there. It is just me, the wait staff, Karaoke man, Kathryn, and Bonnie Tyler whose presence can be felt in this old depot in the middle of Cotton Country in the Delta. "Forever's gonna start tonight," but first the tab...

Charlton, London, England. February 15, 2007. Its still dark outside. I reckon 3.00 a.m. I know what I am in for this morning, Bonnie always liked "love in the dark." It happens whenever we drink champagne together. "Tuuuurrn Arround, every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming around..." At least now I know the lyrics so I'll just be sick instead of sick and annoyed. Happy day after Valentine's Day Bonnie. I love you.


Alana said...

This was the best one yet PJ. When can I expect your book to be published?

Surprised you didn't I? No sarcastic comments from me this time.

Wick said...

March of 1999, Amsterdam, The Netherlands -- At approximately 4 am, five of us return from our first "night on the town" in Holland. We are staying at the Flying Pig Hostel and sharing a room with a solitary wanderer/serial rapist. The night was spent injesting enough depressant to go to sleep with the obvious maniac just above me in the bunk bed.
While using the (very expensive)internet connection to find out the scores of the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I am struck by a familiar noise coming from the pub downstairs. As I approach the stairwell and open the door, I recognize the tune of a song. As I venture down the crowded stairs (as close as I could actually get) to the pub, I discovered an international sing along of "Total Eclipse of the Heart". The entire building was singing, with heavy accents, in unison. I joined, and by the time the song was over I had tears rolling down my face (not really, but it would have been a whole lot cooler if I did). Bonnie Tyler had managed to bring the world together in one small pub in Amsterdam. Upper middle-class early twenty somethings of varying nationalities and ethnic groups were brought together by the commonality of their consumerism and absorption of American Pop music.

Will said...

Brilliant blog!