Almanac Music: Angel



Lucy was all curves and a passionate heart. The one that got away. We had a date on a Monday, six months after splitting up. A bad night for bands. I had no idea if that was a good thing or not, but finished work in the bush early, swam it off in the river, then chocked my record player full of old school vinyl.


Bo Diddley.?L7.?Patti Smith.?The Dubrovniks.?The Church’s Blurred Crusade.


Whatever it took, in my shitty, empty weatherboard home, to find that groove, to hit that moment.


The Stones’ ‘Sweet Black Angel’ filled the room, pushing, weaving out into the still-aired valley, soaking into falling light, gullies and the coastal surf beyond the cliffs. I strutted with the song onto the porch, easy, so I could feel it in my skin. Wear it, and have it carry me to town.


Fuck yeah.


Let that gutsy, scratchy old piece of vinyl play forever, skip until I return. Let the damn house burn down!


The song was about halfway through when I fired up the old V8, as if it were a dinosaur, and pushed out along haggard, winding roads that took me up into the mountains and down onto highways that eventually lead to cities.


There was no stereo in the car; I’d kicked it in long ago. Just the soothing gurgle of an abused motor that wanted to die. Just three hours of whistling air.


Lucy was as stunning as ever. We were simply too different, impossible, but so what? When has logic ever done anything but hurt?


“Late as always,” she smiled, standing in the dark of a warm north wind that had built as I approached.


“Any bands?” I asked.


“The Dirtbombs are here tomorrow.” She gave a happy shrug. “But it’s today.”


I watched her dark eyes, her lips.


“It’s too late for a movie, too,” they said.


“Who cares?” I replied.


We went for a walk, looking for a place to drink. We always did that well.


One bar after another, everything was shut, streets empty, quiet. Eventually, I noticed the smallest band venue in the city, where I’d seen the’s, a three piece Japanese girl punk band, put on a corker show.


They had decided that the bandroom out back was too cramped, so set up in front, two of them on the bar, one on a table opposite. Munching on chewie, towering over us, everything up-skirt and sweaty, they let out the cutest “One, two, three, four …” and tore us new arseholes. Those three girls surrounded the crowd with chaos and noise. They ruled the world.


Tonight the pub was dead, with just the one ghost ship propping it up. Something stale.


“Nah,” Lucy said.


“We’ll give it mouth to mouth!” I pleaded.


She gave me a look and moved on. I was having my doubts, and always did around her. But I always wanted her.


Finally, we tripped over a bar. Some funky little hole in the wall a musician might drink in before they did a show. So small you had to squint and stare to know it was there.


Inside looked warm. An afro-headed dude was spinning tunes while manning the bar.


We walked through the door. He was playing the Stones, ‘Sweet Black Angel’, which was halfway through, about where I’d walked out on it, into four hours of V8 engines and north wind.


How many songs are there in the world? In?the history of the world? How many flavours, variations, styles? How many bands? Hell, how many songs had the Stones done? He had an arsenal of vinyl. Enough to go to war with, power cannons. So many great tunes must have been lost in it, buried, never to be heard again.


He must have known. Known something.


I laughed, walked up and hugged him like love. The cool cats at the bar moaned. I fucking hated them, layering the drip on anything not as boring as they were. Too cool to spot miracles or humanity.


“They don’t know,” I said, still embraced, for all to hear.


“No, they don’t.” The barman gave the best smile.


I tipped him $10, even though I couldn’t afford two, and settled in with Lucy. She could drink. The barman played Waits, played Cave, Texas Funk, the Midnighters. Lungfish. We got rotten.


Back at Lucy’s place, lights out, window open, the hot north wind billowed her curtains while we fucked in alcohol and the unspoken. She was on top, riding slow. I would ask this time what she had waited so long for, but never heard. Move from the bush, to the city, for her. Figure out how the hell people make money stick, have kids.


Get some shitty job.


Gradually, I felt something land on my chest. Then again.


From under her, I watched by streetlight as tears slowly rolled down Lucy’s cheek, then neck, filling her collar bone, before landing on where I now have my tattoo.


There was no music, no noise. ‘Sweet Black Angel’ was the only song, really, I’d heard all day, and was still hearing now. She had the reins, could stop any time she wanted, so I let her go, and in that, let us go.


I let her say goodbye.




More writing from Matt Zurbo can be read HERE




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  1. Brilliant stuff, Old Dog.
    Just loved this, mate.

  2. What Smokie said!

  3. Great writing Matt (albeit would have gone with Blurred Crusade…).

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