Love By Chance

Whenever I go into a store someplace new & I want to buy something to remember the place by, I give myself up entirely to association.  I buy a copy of A Thousand Acres in a bookstore because it’s a friend’s favorite book.  I pick up the Cars Candy-O album because I still haven’t figured out why Alberto Vargas gets an acknowledgment at the end of the Mad Men credits.  I buy a Sarah Vaughn CD in a Beale Street music store because I’m an uncool white girl with no knowledge of jazz, blues, R&B or soul but I can remember that Kazuo Ishiguro worships her.

Out of newness, something familiar.  Order from unfamiliar surroundings.

So, it was in this way that I found myself falling even more in love with the song “Thirteen”.  At the Stax Museum in Memphis, I browsed the racks, trying to pick something new out for myself & something that Kurt didn’t already have.  (Musically, he’s much more hep than I am.)  Big Star’s first two albums were on one disc & since Alex Chilton had been so mourned, I thought “Well, why not?”

We listened to it on the way home; “Thirteen” is the fourth track.  As soon as I heard the opening chords, I said to my husband, “Do you know what this is?”  I had a cover of this song by Elliott Smith, a vulnerable, sweet acoustic version that made me think of him as a perpetual lost little boy.

Goosebumps prickled my arms as I listened.  I knew the words, but nothing took away from hearing the original & my favorite lyric “Won’t you tell me what you’re dreaming of?/Won’t you be an outlaw for my love?”  I felt this lovely, dizzy feeling of realizing just how great the song is & having no preference for either version.  Just pure love for three minutes of song & longing.  All by clumsy choice.