Like all of my posts, I start writing them in my head first. I sometimes fixate on a phrase. Sometimes it is a single word. I’ve rewritten whole paragraphs because I wanted to include a particular word and I was having trouble doing it. Sometimes, I write whole phrases, only to abandon them and start over.
In the case of this post, I wrote the opening sentence in my head. It was going to be, “We all have that one song that can transport us back to a time and place.” Then I realized we don’t have one song. We don’t have one song and we don’t have one place. We have lots of songs and lots of places to be sent back to. I could probably write an entire blog around the idea. I will save that idea for another day. Today, I want to write about one of those songs for you.
Way back in my university days, when beer was cheaper and a night away from the books meant wandering around student bars in London (Ontario) there were several places that I spent time in, but there was one haunt that should be remembered. It was called GT’s–the initials possibly for “Good Times” though I can’t be sure. It was located in the basement. I’ve heard them called Dive Bars on American TV, but the term “dive” always meant a dreadful place. It could have been a dive, but I remember it as ….comfortable.
One night, I was there, along with a number of my friends. They had a guitar player and a drum machine to entertain us. With the low price of beer and the willingness to commit, we probably didn’t need it. He was a decent player and his singing skills were far better than the average karaoke pro. He knew his audience and played all the songs that university students could drunkenly sing along to.
I met another friend at the bar. She had been the coxswain for the rowing team my cardiovascularly challenged body failed to make. We weren’t good friends, but whenever we ran into each other (invariably) at a bar, we spent a few minutes catching up. I cannot recall anything we said, but that we talked is an important element in the rest of the story.
Later on in the evening, the guitar player started to play Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl“. I looked up and saw my friend from earlier on stage singing the sha-la-la-la parts to the song. She pointed at me and signaled me to come up and sing that part with her. I don’t know why she did that. We had talked earlier and no one–and I mean no one–would think my deep and raspy voice should be singing. Okay, there are songs I should sing, and I should be doing voiceovers for radio, TV, and videogames, but Brown-Eyed Girl is probably not one of those songs..
Nevertheless, I got up on stage and did my slightly drunken best. Nobody complained and I didn’t get kicked out. I had many good moments at GT’s, like slow dancing to A Whiter Shade of Pale, seeing some good local bands, hanging out with friends, but that memory of Brown-Eyed Girl will always stay with me.
Wednesday afternoon, I was coming home from a moderately frustrating day at work and I was stuck in slow traffic. The news was dreadful. Eddie Van Halen had died, Covid cases were on the rise, and I just felt blah. I switched radio stations and was surprised that I had tuned into silence. I was completely between songs. For a brief second, there was nothing on the radio. For a brief moment, there were infinite possibilities.
Then, that familiar riff to Brown-Eyed Girl started up and I was transported back to that basement bar off Richmond street. I wasn’t the grumpy ESL teacher stuck in traffic. I was a young university student, standing on stage with beer courage singing the sha-la-la-las.
It’s not bad that Yesterday’s Perfect Moment actually occurred 30 years ago.