It's good to know I affected you in some way...
that the feeling was mutual.
Monica: In a chilly newsroom in Salt Lake City
On my way to visit dad one afternoon about a week after I met Serge I manage to pop into a Virgin Megastore and buy all four of Marah’s albums. I find myself hoping I don’t like them, wanting disappointment in his music to rescind my raw, pulsating emotions. Maybe his band isn’t that good, maybe the entire night was a result of the drugs and liquor.
Ever since exchanging emails and phone numbers we had been texting each other funny little missives, sharing jokes and generally entertaining each other throughout the long hours of our days.
Through the band’s website I was well aware they were finished with Arizona, en route to Austin, Texas. Serge had sent a text with a joke about Texas and how they were stopping in El Paso for the night.
I slide Marah’s first album into my player and am immediately thunderstruck. It’s the song called Fever that Steve had been screaming for that night at the bar:
These arms, that open out
To grab a hold of anything…
The song continues shredding my already raw emotions. It ends with the lyrics:
Oh, the fever is getting badder...
I am so fucked, I tell myself. Maybe that’s the only good song on the album. I continue listening as I negotiate downtown Salt Lake City traffic at rush hour.
But the album continues to break my heart.
The lyrics thunder into my head like a freight train. The night at the bar was amazing, the music unlike anything I’d heard before, but I didn’t catch many of the lyrics. Now I am caught up in a tornado of imagery. Beautifully crafted songs, words strung together like lights on a Christmas tree. They make everything I’ve listened to before seem trite and silly. Then The Song comes on.
I came here on a golden rocket
I’ll be leaving on a magic carpet
And now it’s “What’d you do this time?”
I’ve been livin' inside of your golden locket
I’ve been sleeping in your jacket pocket
And now, I’m just a junk drawer dream
Waitin’ by a telephone
Feeling lost and all alone
So go ahead and try to see
What I mean
Hey! Spin the rounds, won’t you point the gun
Put on your saddle shoes
And dance to the 81
Pull the trigger, turn to run
Then Father Time won’t you do your best
A broken heart… the loosened ends
Of a party night, when your story bends
And your phantom eyes tell lies to my old friends
Human highs, dehumanized, dirty tricks, dirty lies
Repeat lies, add evil twist, increase the size
I am shaking and sweating. I feel like I’m having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. I pull over my truck and sob into the steering wheel. I have to shut off the radio. I grip the wheel for dear life, not sure what’s happening. I’m gasping for air. Can’t get a swallow of fresh air.
After a few minutes of desperately controlled breathing I lift my head. I have been sucker punched by the strongest emotions I have ever felt in my life. I grab my cell phone to text Serge: I have to come find you. I am driving to El Paso. Within minutes, as if he has been waiting for me to text those very words, he replies: Okay.
MARAH: PHANTOM EYES