To Those Without The Elevators (first letter)

A fear of being trapped in the middle of nowhere (of going nowhere fast) still returns to me without warning. A panicky sense of the ephemeral quickness of life has stayed with me. It’s been like a bodily pain you learn to live with over time.
Back then we’d feel an urgency collapsing our lungs almost every night.
Could we get some money and get out of this place?
The faces, voices and friendships are long gone. The cold ugliness of our parental homes (and some rusty hatch-backs) have been replaced. It’s the worry and longing that have stuck around. Surely I’m not the only one to know this.
Every strip mall brings on this awareness– every generic apartment block and pedestrian-challenged, eight-way intersection, every hinterland garbage dump, every shabby soccer field and shopping-centre loading dock.
Our jobs paid us in shit and we were told we were lucky. It helped to hide away and listen to other voices.
An escape route sang out to us from the past — from the heart of a mythical subaltern Texas night:
“Slip inside this house that you pass by.”

Now here were people who really wanted to escape. They lived in a place where the police wore cowboy hats! They sang about third eyes, levitation and leaving your body behind. They enacted a kind of living science fiction. The singer checked into an insane asylum to avoid Austin jail time after stormtroopers found pot in the gig van. He escaped temporarily, recording Easter Everywhere while on the lam for over a year in San Francisco and elsewhere. Some years later the guitarist was shot dead by his wife on the lawn of their suburban home.

Under-appreciated — hopelessly obscure by 1971 or 72 — they return as a trace — a rebel ghost within the pretentious self-importance of British post-punk acts. The sincerity of “She Lives In A Time Of Her Own” (a bare desire — a faith) haunts the affectations of the Blank Generation’s little brothers and sisters. It props up the mannered angst of Unknown Pleasures — the arrogance and formal consistency of Heaven Up Here.

We ate it up. We identified. We put the tape in the car stereo again and again and kept driving away from everything. The sound of their jug — that crazy moonshine-wobble-bottle — transported us repeatedly.

I’m rediscovering this dark soundtrack and I think you should listen too.
I’m beginning to imagine the future again.

jeremy