Tom Waits: Used Songs (1973-1980)

Song: “I Never Talk To Strangers

I was writing a very long entry here and I just accidentally deleted it. I will try to recreate what I wrote, but it feels like I just woke up from a dream and I’m trying to remember everything that happened.


I lost the entry by accidentally closing the browser window, ironically because I went to my iTunes to start up the music again, even more ironically because the song that started was one I’d written about before, and then when I was clicking back to finish this Tom Waits story, I hit the little red button, and it was all gone.

So. Back to describing what I have already written once before.

I found this song just last week. In an effort to procrastinate I decided to clean my work area (which, if you could see me right now would cause you to go, “Where exactly did you clean?”). In any event I found a blank CD. I put it in my computer to find it was a mix CD that I didn’t make. Judging from the tracks listed, this was a CD Eric made, which means it was burned roughly seven years ago and for some reason has lived among my things.

Eric and I had a very clear division where our musical tastes went on their own paths, mine toward The Prodigy and The B-52’s, his toward sad boys filled with melancholy, singing about pain and loss. It is why I started calling his music strummy-strummy-la-la. And now here I am ripping his CD into my iTunes because I’ve grown an appreciation for the strummy-strummy-la-la over the past couple of years. (As this Rilo Kiley song that just started playing proves).

I named Eric’s CD “I Found This CD.” I think he’d like that.

So I hear this Tom Waits song for the first time. It’s the first track on the CD, and as I listen I find that I’ve never heard a single song on this CD before. Eric and I lived together for years. We shared everything. And yet when he wants to listen to twelve songs — where? in the car? at the gym? was this a mix for him? for when he was at work? is it possible he made it for me and was going to give it to me but then we got into a fight or we got busy and he forgot to label it and so it ended up in a pile of things and now seven years later i find something he wanted me to see back in 1999, before it got sad, before I met stee, before everything changed? — he picked twelve songs that I not only have never heard before, I don’t even remember the albums being in our collection. It’s almost like finding out about a secret life.

I swear to God my browser just crashed. This time I had saved, but I just lost another two paragraphs. I don’t know why the internet doesn’t want me to finish this thing. Now I worry it’s just babbling, the scribblings I’ll write on pieces of paper next to my bed when I wake up from a dream convinced I’d just written something brilliantly funny (Last week I had a dream my sister was reciting the latest Carlos Mencia special she’d watched, and since it was supposed to be the future I knew Natalie was telling me new material that I’d need if I went back to work there. I woke up and wrote down as much as I could remember before I went back to sleep, still giggling because it was so funny. In the morning, I found I had written “Rain… don’t think so… retards.”)

I’ve been thinking about Eric lately, because he’s from Pittsburgh and living in Denver, and all the football, in addition to other major changes going on in his life, all amount to Eric having a very good year.

Yesterday I got an email from him, out of the blue, catching me up on his life, sending me photos of his new baby. And the day before I got an email from a friend I haven’t seen since right after we graduated high school, one I’ve often thought of in the past decade. She’s doing well and happened to find my book, and therefore me, while browsing for something new to read. Last week I heard from a friend I haven’t seen since high school — he went to a different high school, in fact, and we met at a theatre contest (shout-out to my UIL homies), and became fast, seriously twisted friends for about a month, and then never saw each other again. I have pictures of us and I’ve always wondered what happened to him… and then there he was (about as easy to find as I am), getting ready to move out here in the spring.

Then I went back to work on Friday for season two with many of the group I worked with last year. And just like that I’m back in the office, going to lunch where we used to, joking about the same stuff, although this year my officemate has changed, the job will last longer, and I’ve got a little more experience (and stress medicine for my increasingly princess-y constitution), which will hopefully keep me from getting the shingles.

All of which is to say that maybe there’s something to this quantum physics thing I was thinking about last year, and if you think about something (or someone) hard enough, your perceptions can become your reality. What you need to see, you will see. Or, I just turn more and more into some kind of new-age Zen girl the longer I live here. Where were Dan and I yesterday afternoon after our eight-mile run? Doing wheatgrass shots. (Did you hear that? That was the sound of AB and Allison scoffing before sending each other email about how dumb people in California can be. Sorry, you guys. Apparently it’s good for my skin, which for the past two years has been very angry with me.)

I could try and sum all this up with a lame attempt to relate this entry to the song, that I heard this Tom Waits song for the first time and thought about all the strangers I’ve talked to, who became important to me, who fade from my life but seem to find a way to come back, but I worry the second I write something even slightly clever here my browser will crash again, and I’ll never stop crying.