🎧 Your Thread There on the Loom | A Story and a Song Episode 1.5

A bonus story and song.


A Story and a Song Episode 1.5 Transcript:

Welcome to A Story and a Song, where I, Brian Leli, tell you a story about a song that someone else wrote but I like to play, and then I play it. This is not a proper Story and a Song episode. It's more of an Episode 1 bonus track.

A quick update first, though: I bought a new guitar, which you'll hear a tiny bit of in a few minutes. I'm still using only the one podcast mic to record everything. But I have an instrument mic sitting in a box on the ground next to me, and I'm just waiting on a couple cables and stands to get my recording setup in order. I should have all of that before Christmas, and I'll have the next episode out to you soon.

Okay. Onto today's bonus track.

In preparing the first episode, which those of you who listened to it will know was about two AA Bondy performances, I forgot about a very short "story" I wrote involving Bondy while I was living in Colombia. I wrote it shortly after getting robbed at knifepoint, which is maybe a story for another time. For now I'll just say that the robbery did me in, and the Bondy song I reference in the story I wrote, a song called "On the Moon," was one of the songs that slowed the less merciful parts of my mind down when something needed to, much to my relief.

The lyrics could be about almost anything and the song would still work. The basic melody and structure are there and enough. But the lyrics, which seem to shift between fantasy and reality, tranquility and annihilation, decay and rebirth, maintain a kind of steady and elated indifference to it all, and they definitely succeed in painting their own poetic picture. It's as if they're saying, "Yes, everything's going up in smoke. But look at how pretty the smoke is."

I wrote most of the story in my head one day while listening to "On the Moon" on repeat and walking to work. This was around the time, which began shortly after the robbery, that most of my walking was done on high alert, and when the sounds of footsteps and sights of shadows approaching from behind me were very unwelcome, and occasionally, I'm embarrassed to admit, straight frightening. So the fact that I was listening to music at all on those walks is, I think, a testament to the natural narcotic power of certain songs. At that time, as with a lot of other times, I was looking for ways to escape the roar of my mind for a while, or to at least subdue it. And this is one of the songs that opened an exit hatch, so to speak.

So this is the story I wrote in defiance of, but also in harmony with, my then wounded and roaring mind. It's called "Professional Shadowboxer."

Professional Shadowboxer

I daydreamed that I was AA Bondy. No, I wasn’t Bondy. I was me. And I was sitting on the floor of a cabin deep in the woods, watching Bondy, who was playing a piano and singing his song “On the Moon.” The song was an old shoebox that you bury in the dirt to rid yourself of things, then dig up again to rid yourself of more. It was night and the cabin was lit only by candles. When Bondy reached the end of the song, there was this long silence as he looked down at the keys and waited in peace for the ghosts to finish careening out of him. Or maybe this was me again, looking down at the floor and imagining I was Bondy looking down at the keys, and then the ghosts and whatnot. In any event, after the long, retreating silence, Bondy turned to me and said, “I guess you could say I’m a professional shadowboxer. All these fights. But no wins or losses to speak of.” And I think this is why I thought I was him at first.

So that's the story. It's not much of one. But it's part of the longer thread, I think. I honestly don't know anymore if I made it up or actually daydreamed it. But I guess there's not much of a difference. In either case, I got sick a few weeks after I wrote it, give or take, which is where the story I told in Episode 1 begins. So there you have it. A prequel of sorts. Now here's my Saturday-morning rendition of Bondy's "On the Moon." I'll see you in Episode 2 with Tom Waits' "Picture in a Frame." Merry Christmas. I miss quite a few of you much more than you know.

“On the Moon”