For all I know, I still live in a tunnel. Yesterday I learned that “Teardrop” by Jose Gonzalez is a cover of Massive Attack’s original, vocals by Liz Fraser. I’ve used Gonzalez’s “Teardrop” on the playlist for The Timeless Nature of Patience, but listened, for the first time, to Massive Attack’s version; I love it as much as Gonzalez’s. Fraser wrote the lyrics, the song released in 1998. Having absorbed her version only a few times, I’m already captured, wondering what book that tune will eventually inspire.
This is how it starts, from a song to a story to a novel.
Sometimes I know the music backwards and forwards. Sometimes it comes veiled, like “The Scientist”, but not by Coldplay. Same tune though, interpreted by Willie Nelson. Yes, that Willie Nelson. He recorded it last year, then included it on Heroes, this year’s album. It’s gorgeous, blew me away on first listen. Then I began digging; Coldplay released it in November, 2002. (November is such a good month!)
In 2002, I was living in Britain, but not paying much attention to Coldplay. Ten years later, the only thing I know about the band is the lead singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow. Or I assume they’re still hitched.
I heard Willie’s album in summer, which lead to the novel Splitting the Sky, written in August for Camp NaNoWriMo. “The Scientist” corresponds to the last chapter; I love Willie’s aged but honest delivery. Even scientists shed tears.
One of the joys of writing is much like why I enjoy living; beauty awaits, even in the oddest places. I had a wonderful ten-minute chat with a guy in the grocery store yesterday; we were looking at bacon at the end-cap across from the deli. Neither of us are vegetarians, but we don’t eat a lot of meat, how the conversation began. That in the actual meat section, those large hunks cause a bit of squeamishness, but a package of bacon wasn’t so daunting. I learned he’s a biker, one of the top five in the Bay Area years ago; he’s my age, or a little older, but still treks up various hills. He doesn’t need those 7,000 calorie meals anymore, although he can’t look at a loaf of sourdough without wishing to inhale it.
I smiled, said I felt the exact same.
Yet, we are individuals, like Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” isn’t Jose Gonzalez’s, or Willie Nelson and Coldplay’s differing takes on “The Scientist”. Just like there are only so many plots and ways to tell a story, but my view isn’t going to be anyone’s but mine. When I sing along to “Teardrop”, it’s heavily influenced by Gonzalez, but Liz Fraser’s breathy, ephemeral beauty now sneaks in after only four plays. (I quietly sang it this morning in the shower, hypnotic and sparse.) When I write, all that I’ve read and written before hovers, but ultimately, what I create is personal. Like a scientist’s discoveries, or teardrops, falling down my cheeks.