Friday, July 26, 2019


I experienced one of those moments tonight that I covet but can't ever plan for or will into being. We were in our local Chipotle grabbing some burritos and as we stood in line I recognized R.E.M.'s "Fall On Me" playing over the speakers. Because the song surprised me, I wasn't prepared for it, and that stirring melody in the chorus and the beautiful changes in the middle, not to mention the thoughtful lyrics, floored me—I spent a maybe a minute in that delicious "catch up" mode, as if I were hearing a song that I've listened to countless times for the first or maybe the third time. Sitting at a table near us was a college couple from central casting—young, wholesome, lost in their world together, from the looks of it early in their relationship—and at once a kind of transparency was laid over the tableau: a college couple scored by one of the great college radio hits of my era, a song that soundtracked many a sweet and bittersweet moment from my own early twenties. The more things change the more they stay the same is far too clich├ęd an observation, and yet every well-worn phrase began in head-lifting, irrefutable truth. What two college kids thirty years from now might be noticed sentimentally by the man or the woman from tonight's couple, and what song will be playing? One that reminds him or her of a heartbreak, or of a blissy night at some fast food joint they can't remember early in their long and happy coupledom? Songs always tell the truth, no matter how sad or heartwarming.

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