number 19. not much to say about the number. but the song is a sad one.
last week my mother asked why the last set of songs were so sad. i hadn’t noticed. they are monday songs after all. but I listened and thought, there isn’t the little pithy number to break up the flow. or a straight funny song. so i set out this week to write an unflinchingly happy song.
i failed miserably.
in fact, i went entirely in the other direction. the only remnant of that joyful effort is the line “i’m so happy,” which, over the selected chord progression, doesn’t sound happy at all. that’s what started me down the path, i guess. like neil young said about his feel good anthem “don’t let it bring you down” this one’s guaranteed to bring you down. you might just want to skip it altogether.
though the song is fiction, it was definitely inspired by an old piece of reality. there was a girl who sat in front of me in tenth grade biology. her name was gabriela leone. the teacher was mr. campman. it was like having johnny carson as your biology teacher, only less funny. but not a lot less. in my memory he could easily have passed for johnny’s brother.
gabriela never spoke, she was extremely shy. almost like she wasn’t there at all. and then one day she wasn’t. i found out later that she rode to the top of the santa monica place parking lot at lunch, parked her bike against the concrete wall, and jumped off. was she 15? 16?
with all my recent high school musical ideas, it’s left me reminiscing, and she keeps coming to mind. even then I was struck by how sad and meaningless that was. i would think of her bike, sitting by the railing, in the middle of the day. i can’t think of a lonelier image.
as with many things that happened over 25 years ago, I can’t help wondering if it even happened at all…
i must admit that musically i usually have a filter that won’t allow me to be quite so grim, but i watched “dancer in the dark” the other night, and was reminded how deeply moved i could be by naked tragedy. that movie and “breaking the waves” are almost unwatchable, and yet somehow profoundly affecting. I can’t say this song reaches that level, but it was probably from this inspiration that i let myself take things a bit farther than usual.