Monday, July 23, 2007
volume 4 no. 15
the sound assembly,
the Holiday Inn band of the early seventies ended up in Leominster, Massachusetts
for a two-month stay.
one night at the lounge
a man introduced himself as Father Flathers
even though he wasn't a priest.
he was the manager of the local airfield
and a flight instructor.
as such he had access to planes for free and was in the habit of spontaneously deciding to have lunch in say, Cape Cod, borrowing a plane and flying there for lunch. though 30 years my senior, he and I became friends. my days were free so he began calling me to join him on his spontaneous lunch jaunts.
father, as everyone called him, had a gregarious personality and a sense of humor to match. like a slim John Goodman with white hair. soon he had me talked into flying lessons. we would go up in a small single engine plane, start flying around, and his monologue would begin.
"over here on the left is the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed. now, that whole plot of land you see out to the east is owned by my dear friend the governor." he'd light up a cigarette, lean back, take his hands off the wheel, and sure enough I'd be flying the airplane. I actually logged 3 hours of flying time. it was great fun and I wanted to continue, but one day our agent don sheik* called to say our holiday inn engagement in leominster was over. and so were my days as a pilot.
little did I know within a few years I'd spend hundreds of hours flying around the globe.
at first I loved all the flying. all the bustling international airports, they were exciting to me. but after the first three or fours years of near constant travel an unexpected thing happened. I developed a very serious fear of flying. I was petrified.
seated on a plane with the krimson quartet, robert would tell onlookers, "watch his hands". as the plane would take off my hands would become drenched in sweat like some kind of stigmata. every slight move the plane would make would throw me into panic. it was a horrible thing to endure.
my doctor prescribed a medicine they call "xanax", a type of beta blocker.
I called them "stupid pills" because they made me dull as a shovel. more than once I left things on a plane or forgot to get my luggage or missed a connecting flight because of the stupor those pills created. traveling alone became an issue.
it lasted all through the 80's and 90's. finally in 2003 while touring europe with krimson I couldn't stand it anymore. on a short flight I decided not to take the xanax. I braced myself for the sweaty oncoming panic attack, but it never happened. after 20 years of travel my fear of flying had disappeared.
I wrote the song fly on a metal guitar called a dobro which I have always tuned to an open tuning spelled DADDAD. (it's another palindrome.) as I started writing I wanted to record my melodic ideas quickly, before I forgot them. fortunately my engineer noah evens lived right next door. we went straight into my downstairs studio to capture what I had so far. that's the first part of this version. the second part takes up after I had written the words.
I know I should feel welcome here,
way up in the atmosphere, but I am afraid
and If I land on earth again
I'll be happy just to cut my face while I shave.
now the sky is floating by but I am not a cloud
and I've decided I was not designed to fly.
after all I'm only sand to irate the oyster
and to wait for a pearl
and even though I must concede
greatness has eluded me,
I'd still miss the world.
and I would have regrets were I to pirouette
inside a metal jet
and I am not prepared to sprout a pair of wings and fly...
*see "I'm not really a booking agent, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night..."
dobro and vocals: adrian
engineer: noah evens
recorded at home in Williams Bay, Wis. on september 9, 1993