Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 29th May 2016

26. fading away

Bobby Taylor And The Vancouvers
Fading Away

Why is there so much of everything? I walk back from the postbox and feel swarmed on. Birds and bugs and bats above, the sun low, sheep baaing, cattle mooing, a tractor humming. A threat of rain. I feel wind punched and weary. I have no right to feel this way – what do I have to complain about? I try and clear my head while swallows and swifts fall between the trees. I’m thinking of my father, ill now and old, failing, half a world away, in Texas. I write to him most days, short notes about my life here in the Welsh hills. Yesterday I wrote about my new chain saw and the rotten sycamore I have to cut down. I picture him in Texas, sitting by the window, watching the same swifts, the same swallows, the same sycamore, silent.

In my room I read again some poems by the great Zen poet Ryokan.

Autumn advances
and I become
a bit sad
closing the gate
to my hut.

I don’t regard my life
as insufficient.
Inside the brushwood gate
there is a moon;
there are flowers.

Then I put on Fading Away by Bobby Taylor And the Vancouvers, a masterpiece of regret and beauty, and some alchemy takes place – the air is lightened, the evening is less burdened. I write my father a note about how great it is, to listen to music at night, in the dark, in an empty room, and ask him if he remembers how, when I was a kid, we used to sit just like this, in his room, listening to Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. And I ask him: how does music do that? How does that happen? How does music make everything, even if just for a minute, better?

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