Hips swaying to the beat, long hair flowing , curls laying on curls along the small of her back, eyes closed head back and smiling. Opening her eyes bluer than blue, lips slightly parted as her hands make flowing motions in the air. It must be close to 2a.m and the end is near, just one more song, Mariachi bands and ladies in diamonds, bullfighters and danger. Eldorado by Neil Young. Then the discordant guitar hits and she collapses onto the cushions on the floor panting and laughing for a second rolling over to smile and reach out.
I can still see her on that night, baggy Levis rolled up above her ankles, Docs thrown into the corner, white tank top and a blue and red flannel. An American in England mixing and matching what made sense fashion wise between Brighton and Oregon, two worlds colliding 200 plus miles from Liverpool and 3000 from Portland. She arrived a sorority girl cheerleader and went back a little grungier, the laughter the gigs the pubs, standing stones and ancient monuments and mostly history some of it we made together.
Thanksgiving dinner was the full English at the Stage Door cafe. You could never eat it all, leaning against each other, smiling touching and laughing. The knowledge that in a few days she would be leaving, going back to finish her degree. She said she was coming back, I had bought a ring in a small store, it was beautiful, an antique and it meant something.
I called my Dad before she left and talked of the risk, he told me that sometimes you have to let some people go so they can come back. I remember standing in the dark feeding coins into the phone box on the corner, my Dad sounding so far away and yet so certain as he always was.
The eighties were ending and the 90’s about to start it seemed like anything could happen.
The last album we played together the night before she left was Later That Same Year by Matthews Southern Comfort. A beautiful album full of California sun made by a young man from Barton on Humber, the wrong side of the river as my friends from Hull would say. I had bought it only for the Fairport Convention connection, I kept it because it is such a well crafted album, it also introduced me to so many American musicians in one fell swoop. It is maybe what Fairport Convention may have sounded like if Matthews had not left, the van had not crashed and Hutchings had not discovered Childe Ballads, who knows, there are so many uncertainties.
It’s Thanksgiving next week and sometimes it’s hard to know what to be thankful for, however sometimes the true treasures are staring us in the face.