Four a.m. - I like waking up early, but not this early. It was a splitting headache that woke me up. I hardly ever wake up with a headache anymore (especially when I haven't been drinking), but this one was a doozy.
I was not looking forward to the day. Later this afternoon, I've got to fly the Boss and three others up to some Christmas party in some town about an hour-and-a-half away. The return is scheduled for "around" nine o'clock, and you know what that means. I'll be lucky if we get back to the homedrome by eleven. Hanging around with a bunch of people I don't know at a party where I can't drink? Oh joy. And since the airport fixed-base operator (FBO) where we'll be landing closes at five p.m., I won't be able to hang out there. Which means I'll have to tag along with the boss to the party...which means I'll have to dress "nicely" instead of wearing my usual jeans-and-leather-jacket uniform.
It was not just an ordinary headache, as I said. Not quite a migraine, but extremely annoying. Sometimes I can put up with a headache, depending on where the pain is focused. This one was getting in the way of conscious thought. And sleep. (Although truthfully I'd gone to bed early and had gotten my usual five-plus hours.) I realized that I was also in a fairly bad mood, separate from the headache, which is unusual for me.
A couple of extra-strength Excedrins didn't even begin to make a dent in the pain, so I turned to my one sure-fire cure: Music. I don't know why, and cannot explain it, and it sounds illogical as hell, but listening to loud music - mostly rock music that would give other people a headache - can cure my mine. Like I said, don't ask me why; it just works, ever since I was a teenager.
The same way I've never had a headache while flying - at least, not that I can remember. Even if I have a headache right before going up, it disappears once I'm in the cockpit and strapped into the seat. Maybe it's the brainpower that's required to concentrate on aviating...or maybe flying causes the release of certain chemicals in my little pea brain...I don't know. All I do know is that I cannot ever remember flying with a headache. Just doesn't happen.
But the helicopter was safely tucked in its hangar, an hour away. Flying was not an option (plus I was still in my pj's). So I went out to the livingroom and lay down on the couch with the Christmas tree lights on and the iPod turned up loud.
Coincidentally, "Wrong Number" by The Cure was already playing. Stroke of luck; The Cure! Just what I needed. I love The Cure. And "Wrong Number"...so multi-layered and textured, almost to the point of being cacaphonous - jeez, what a terrific song.
It was followed by Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." One thing I'd never noticed - even after listening to that song as often as I have - is the incredible, McCartney-esque bass line. So expressive! I'd love to meet that bass player. Played that one a couple of times.
Widespread Panic's "Little Lilly" came next. Oh man... Swirling and ethereal, WP's music always takes me off into another dimension. Who needs drugs with music like Widespread Panic's?
Oh the lady like Beatle songs
The words are off but they don't seem that wrong
"She came in through the bedroom window
Like a blue bird, like a blue biiiiiiirrrrddddd"...
Then it was the haunting "Back To Black" by the train wreck that is Amy Winehouse, which I almost skipped over even though I love the tubular bells clanging through the song. But then I remembered getting on an airliner in Washington D.C. last year and hearing "Back To Black" over the p.a. system as we boarded. At the time, I chuckled because I was certain that Air Tran would probably not have let the song play if they knew the first stanza went:
He left no time to regret, kept his dick wet
With his same old, safe bet
Nice, Amy, nice. Thanks for the imagery. You gotta love Amy Winehouse. Now that's some world class self-destructive behavior. Will anybody be surprised to read of her death-by-overdose? Not me. (Sweetie, you better get yourself right with God, 'cuz you're probably gonna be meeting him real soon.)
There followed a strange combination of old and new songs by Three Dog Night, Coldplay, Oingo Boingo, Blue October, and the Electric Light Orchestra.
Ahh, ELO. I love Jeff Lynne, the wannabe-Beatle who ended up being the keeper of the flame. Perhaps ELO's most ambitious, can't-top-this album was 1977's "Out Of The Blue." Great stuff. But as good a songwriter/arranger as Jeff is, he could sometimes stumble, as in "Night In The City," the cut on my iPod.
Standing at the airport, looking down the strip
She was drying her eye, she was biting her lip
Seven-four-seven just left from gate eleven
And there's no turning 'round, cuz it's just leaving the ground
And getting higher...higher...
Standing at the dockside, looking out to sea
When I saw her but she did not see me
As she stood with no hope, because she missed the boat
And as her dreams sailed away, she headed back for the day
Back to the city...
Not quite enough syllables in that seventh line. I always laugh when I hear that awkward phrasing, turning the word "missed" into two syllables. "...As she stood with no hope, because she miss-ed the boat." I know Jeff must've wrestled with it. It sounded forced back then, still does now. But I like the 747 reference. Great song.
And finally it was, "Me and You and a Dog Name Boo," by Lobo, yet another song from the '70s. Damn! I need more modern music. But "Boo" is a great feel-good song with a great sing-along chorus...
Me and you and a dog named Boo
Traveling and a'livin' off the land
Me and you and a dog named Boo
How I love being a free man
...One of the few I'd consider doing in a karaoke bar. Just as well it's not in any of the karaoke libraries I've seen (yeah, I've looked).
Old songs don't go over well in karaoke bars patronized by young peoples, as I found out one unfortunate night after a very drunken, bordering-on-criminal rendition of Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." Everyone was going, "What the hell song is THAT? Don't you know any Nickelback? Get that guy off the stage before he sings again!" Thankfully, I was among friends who understood the need for guys to do outrageously dumb things when they've had a few too many Rum and Cokes. At least I kept my pants on. That time.
I've really got too many old songs on my iPod. And I don't want to turn into one of these guys who only listens to music from the past. My friend Mike generously made me up a CD with a bunch of new stuff he thought I'd like. And he was right, it's all great! Where does he find this stuff? As you get older it gets harder and harder to to keep up with the new. I confess that I don't listen to the radio as much as I used to - not that the radio is even a good source of new music anymore. But at least radio was passive. Now you actually have to go find new music for yourself, and I don't have time for that. I want the old days back!
Anyway, after listening to all these songs (some more than once...some more than twice), my headache had long since melted away and I was feeling like myself again. I know it sounds corny and maybe a little fake, but my waking hours are filled with this...this...joy. I love life...love being alive. Some friends of mine call it a state of blissful delirium (with undertones of dementia). I don't know...I'm just always happy. And I don't like waking up in a bad mood.
I whipped off the headphones and got up. The sun was coming up. Clear as a bell out, going to be an awesome day - cold but awesome (only 38 degrees at six o'clock). Plus, I get to go flying! Attitude thusly improved, I made some coffee and sat down at the computer...