ulysses_6

Tales from a Brave Ulysses

XXVIII. "Sad-Happy Saturday Morning"

I used to play in a band called Starla. We were named after a Smashing Pumpkins b-side that I didn't hear until after I'd agreed on the name. It sounded like the name of a band I might hypothetically see written in 12-point courier on the face of a white background-ed record and think: This is something I could like; this sounds like the type of music I like, based purely and unabashedly on the name. We played several shows.


Saturday.

This morning I woke beside my girlfriend at 9 am. I walked downstairs five flights to find my newspaper already stolen. I remind myself to cancel the subscription and just buy it on Saturdays from the nice Iranian man on the corner, who, on other days, will sell me packs of gum for 35 cents or a copy of New York magazine if the cover looks interesting enough to warrant a foregoing of $3.95. Dismayed, I rock-climbed my way back up the five flights of hand-railing to my apartment; I collapsed into bed, forgetting that at the third flight I had thought it would be nice to stay up and listen to Radiohead's Kid A quietly on my turntable. It wouldn't wake her: not with the loud trucks passing as innocuous booms of thunder and gravel beyond the window. I woke again four hours later during the afternoon.

There was a sunbeam like burning gold tire tracks across my face. It jarred me into a shudder, and she rolled beside me. I sat up and rolled out of bed; I went to my turntable, just off her side of the bed, and was met by a tired and comfortable reaching arm, pleading that I not turn on the music. She wanted to sleep.

I started coffee and sat in the kitchen with a travel guitar. A "Baby Martin," as the tag had said when I purchased it six months ago after I'd moved to the city, leaving the much more expensive and luxurious acoustic guitar I had played with Starla in Seattle. (Two months after this purchase, my father would visit and bring said guitar with him, as he thought I would need, or rather, want it.)

Sleeping Girlfriend and I recently attended an Iron and Wine show. Sam Beam, the fulcrum and foundation of Iron and Wine, had been playing in support of the collaborative record recorded with Spanish-sounding-yet-not-Spanish-at-all Calexico. In the Reins, it was called. Sleeping Girlfriend and I had planned to go, Iron and Wine having a special niche in the history of our relationship — Sleeping Girlfriend had listened to almost the entirety of Our Endless Numbered Days (Iron and Wine's most recent full-length) on our first trip to the record store together; this was almost two years ago, when we were both still in college.

I'll admit that in college, whenever I really liked a girl, I would take her to the record store. "Let's just stop by here real quick," I would say, on our way out to dinner, a movie, or 'insert typical date patterning experience here.' This was my fearing-commitment way of letting said girl convince me she was undateable. While talking to My Friends the Clerks at the Record Store, I noticed the Sleeping Girlfriend listening to something at the listening booth. I asked if she wanted to get going (we'd been in the store for about an hour, and I had bought nothing; the used bins of LPs being found to contain the same contents as a few days previous). She wanted to finish listening to the CD. I said I had it at my place, and we could listen later that night. We left, ate Mexican food, listening to Our Endless Numbered Days on my then less-impressive stereo, and made out ferociously.

This morning, sitting fully awake in my kitchen, Iron and Wine has reached a new level of cultural and teenage popularity that had to be surely unexpected by the A&R folk at Subpop when they put out the record. This, I feel, had to do mostly with the inclusion of Sam Beam's living room cover of "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service on the soundtrack to the awfully redundant and irrelevant film Garden State. I sat in my kitchen, and, while the coffee dripped and dripped, slowly figured out what three simple chords and picking pattern made up that cover. I played it, drank coffee, and when Sleeping Girlfriend finally awoke, played it again, but this time singing strange and stupid lyrics about where we should eat breakfast. I couldn't help but think what shame this would have brought to my Starla bandmates.

It's strange that the Happiness music inherently brings can always replace the Unhappiness of a stolen newspaper, or the subtle regret at getting such a late start on the day. Music is truly a Goddess of the Everyday. I am so thankful for learning to play guitar years ago, even if it was Dave Matthews who made me want so badly to learn. (I still believe "Crash into Me" is a fantastic pop song. Music snobs will deny it, but secretly we all embrace the sap of a Sad-Happy Saturday Morning.)