For I will weather the storm
I was waiting for the F train a couple of days ago. When I got on, I eyeballed the car looking for that elusive morning commute seat. I saw a disheveled redheaded man in his late 40s with an empty seat next to him. He saw me look at it and him. He narrowed his eyes and shifted slightly in a way that I recognized as psychic projection of DON'TSSITHERE DON'TSITHERE DON'TSITHERE. Tough. I made my way over, gave the loud "Excuse me" and settled into the corner seat. He smelled strange, a mixture of cigarettes, old newspapers and mints. After a couple of minutes of slightly embittered fidgeting, he put his hand in his expensive looking leather bag and slowly pulled out a plastic wrapped comic book. He handled it carefully but made sure to keep himself compact, his reading hands spaced just so, so that the pages were barely open. This way no one could look over his shoulder and see anything other than the words FLASH! and POW! I had to look. I couldn't help it. I'm a voyeur.
A little later a couple got on and came and stood over the man. The girl had great tousled 60s sex kitten hair and large sunglasses. Her large leather purse swung haphazardly as she draped herself over her stylish counterpart. Red headed comic guy tensed again. This time I felt his pain. The bag kept swinging closer and closer to his face and his comic book. I waited to see if he'd snap. He didn't but his mind was clearly at work. Trying to keep himself together. I closed my eyes and imagined him in the middle of the sea in a tiny rowboat with his comics, some ham sandwiches and maybe a Victrola. It would be playing this song.
Deep Water/Portishead (mp3)
Back in the day, I was quite the Portishead fan. Dummy was certainly the soundtrack to some turbulent emotional times and who could ask for better background music than Beth Gibbons splintered warble and some well placed wickety wickety scratching. It was James Bond music for people whose sole dangerous mission was to get through their week. It made day to day drudgery profound and thrilling. Romantic disappointment quivering and grand. Nobody loves me? No one but you? Great, because it sounds fabulous and L-U-S-H and therefore has MEANING. Eh, I was young. Anywho, I haven't given Third enough of a thorough listen to deem it as powerful, it isn't First so how could it possibly compare? It's a harder edged beast, less atmospherics, more confrontational. Deep Water sticks out from the other tracks by virtue of its very otherness. Like the metaphoric scenario it presents, the song sounds utterly alone, adrift in the middle of the ocean. Gibbons sings quietly to soothe herself from the terrors and is joined on the chorus by disembodied male voices that repeat her lines. Are they mocking her? Or reassuring her? I can't help but feel, despite the fragility of this brief little tune, that there is hope on the horizon. Another boat? A waiting friend? Or perhaps, at long last, land.
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