The First Time I Heard One of My Songs On The Radio

my little blue car was physically hanging in there. i’d had a wreck at some point. i don’t remember when, but i’d left my car in neutral, and it had rolled down my driveway, across the street, with me running hysterically beside it, actually yelling “nooooooooooooo! stop!” as it smashed, albeit rather lazily, into a fire hydrant. the dent in the rear had me a bit down.

so, here i was, driving home, from someplace. i don’t remember where i was coming from. but i remember i was alone. and i remember…

…the sky was crystal clear blue, not a cloud in sight. the trees were beyond spring green, they were luminous. the street was summertime quiet, only the sound of my car’s engine putt-putting down the hard, and smoking hot, flat gray Dallas street. even the buzzing insects were napping, wings tucked in from the warm air…

i was two blocks from home. i could see my house. there it was. on the corner. i was thinking about how the place looked like an overgrown Grimm’s faerie tale, with weeds and tall grasses and vines taking over the front windows and brick. there was one peach tree. i was thinking about when the peaches would come, too.

and, then, right there, behind the wheel, on a day like no other, sitting in my blue car, driving down an ordinary street on an ordinary day, i heard it. for the first time. ever.

the sound of a simple acoustic guitar, the chords, clear and striking, ringing out from my radio. i turned the knob. in disbelief, i pulled my car over to the curb, idling under the shade of an oak.

“if we got stuck … in the middle of the sea….”

it was my guitar. it was my voice! it was my song.

“…could you think of things…to say to me…?”

and it was the song i had written for my father, about being a-drift at sea, just me and my dad, in a tiny fishing boat, lost…the searing, yellow sun bigger than life, beating us down…the two of us…alone..with nothing to say…the water lapping the wooden sides, our backs sunburned, our lips parched, our eyes…broken…questioning…

…and, now…the entire city of dallas could hear my heartache…yet, my voice seemed so…well, so OLD! so MATURE! and so smooth and delicate and confident…all at the same time…as if i was listening to someone else sing a beautiful song…as if someone else had created these chords and knew how to play the six strings so well…

“…and if there was only one drop of water on this tiny boat…”

i burst into tears… i couldn’t believe it… I WAS ON THE RADIO!

and then..the questions started to come: was anyone listening? i looked up, out of my happy sobbing, and looked up and down the street. there wasn’t a soul in sight! all the houses looked so empty, too. and it was a work hour! who in their right mind gets to listen to music at WORK!? these were the thoughts that temporarily swirled through my mind, and then i sent them away, far away.

“…would you gladly give it to me…?”

i was listening. and i was hearing the end result of a dream. and this was a dream of fruition…by taking myself to a studio, laying down the song, and walking the finished vinyl into KERA radio, hand delivering a copy, where chris douridas had decided to give it a spin.

that was in 1988 or 1989. i’m not sure what year, but the vision of the day is undeniable. a tangible audio-visual tattoo on my brain. my forever moment.

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