Soundtrack for the Cheerfully Bereaved

I would have been ok talking to the Rotary Club President about joining up had Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” not come on the restaurant’s sound system. We were meeting over breakfast to discuss my becoming a Rotarian. He was discussing the Club’s margarita booth at the local Art & Wind Festival (that just sounds wrong), when on came Neil Young singing one of “our” songs, George’s and mine and our 32 years together. (My husband died of cancer in 2013 ).

A few songs later, we got “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, not a terribly romantic song, but one George had karaoked at Benihana’s. George had this really powerful singing voice. He could do a great John Fogerty. So, I’m listening to a discussion of the Club’s projects and wondering, why am I doing this? On yeah, I’m joining Rotary so I can feel like I’m contributing to society. And to have contacts for when I need to resurrect my legal career. Except that, after eleven years of practice, I hated being a lawyer.

Will I always feel sad when I hear Neil Young? Or the Cars’ first album? And wouldn’t things be better if I could stop playing Steely Dan’s “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number” over and over again in my car. I probably start crying when I drive home from evening yoga because I play Counting Crows’ “Goodnight Elizabeth.”

I drive George’s two cars: hard to forget him then. I wish I could have kept my old sports car (three were too much), it was truly minimalist with a simple dashboard. Instead I’ve got George’s Volkswagon R32, a VW Golf on steroids with special performance innards.

His Porsche Carrera is stunning, but it has way too many controls for my mechanical inability. I flipped on the “Sport” switch one time by mistake and the thing came alive. It seemed to think I had wronged it. Why do I have cars with sport settings I will never use?

The VW’s cd changer is precious because two of its five CDs are ones that George loaded. These have great sentimental value even though they’re the soundtrack to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the Vapors’ first album including the hit single, “Turning Japanese.”

I recently changed the voicemail message on the landline from George’s old recording to my voice, but I can’t eject those CD’s by myself. And now I’m stuck with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It really sucks to cry every time you forget which cd is in slot number four and on comes “The Time Warp.” It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right, live in the past, and pull your knees in tight….

I did better playing early Van Halen or AC/DC in the Porsche. That car needs mindless adolescent bravado music. But Van Halen was the first concert George and I ever saw together, when I was a high school senior and Dave Lee Roth was sexy evil, not yet a caricature of someone’s debauched uncle. Oh, and George did a mean Bon Scott. So that doesn’t work.

When George first died, I’d sit on this cushion in my living room and listen to “Sticky Fingers” by the Rolling Stones on vinyl. Nothing in the room felt like mine except the music. Listen to “Sway” then “Wild Horses” and your heart will break.

“Men without Hats’ makes me cry because George and I saw them at the Sausalito Art Festival in September 2011 and we both rocked out like dorks next to the stage. In fact, all our CDs hold memories for me so they should probably be off limits. The new music I’ve purchased since he died doesn’t help because it’s all folk rocky and sad. I listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” when I started dating and felt far too old to be a de facto teenager.

I torture myself listening to “Goodnight Elizabeth” by Counting Crows while driving home after dinner with friends. Afterwards, I graduate to the hard stuff, “Ballad in Urgency” by the Black Crows.

What do you do when love ends? I listen to “Hotel California” by the Eagles, on heavy grade vinyl, over and over again on George’s audiophile turntable, another toy which keeps some part of him with me. Finally, I go for the real agony, Crosby Stills and Nash’s first album. I put the needle down to start “Helplessly Hoping.” For us music freaks can salvation only been found in listening to the Stones’ “Hear me Knocking” on an original pressing?

 

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