Distant Fire

We were through, she and I. To admit it out loud, however, during those golden late summer days of 1977, would have been to set the idea loose in the world, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. By admitting it only to myself, I hoped to contain it, either until I was ready to set it loose, or until the knowledge went away.

The radio knew, of course. And it gave me advice.

So you’re having trouble with your romance
Well you better check it out before it goes
Cuz you might not be seeing things just the way you should
And you don’t recognize what everybody knows

It put words in my mouth—words I could sing in the car, but couldn’t say out loud when it counted.

If things are the same then explain why your kiss is so cold
And that mist in your eyes feels like rain on the fire in my soul

Sometimes it put words in her mouth. Or they sounded like they could be her words, and they made me feel like a heel for thinking what I could not say.

Once a story’s told
It can’t help but grow old
Roses do, lovers too
So cast your seasons to the wind
And hold me dear

It would remind me of what I was in the process of losing.

It’s late at night and we’re all alone
Just the music on the radio
No one’s coming, no one’s on the telephone
Just me and you with the lights down low

It would do these things to me randomly, several times a day, as summer turned to fall. What it resolutely refused to do, however, was give me answers—how to admit what needed admitting, how to say what needed saying, and how to live with the consequences. So I had to make my own way through, and I eventually did. But I should have known how it would turn out, after I got what I thought I wanted.

I look into the sky
The love you need ain’t gonna see you through
And I wonder why
The little things are finally coming true

The radio knew, of course. In those days, it knew everything.

“Whatcha Gonna Do”/Pablo Cruise (buy it here)
“Smoke From a Distant Fire”/Sanford-Townsend Band (buy it here)
“We’re All Alone”/Rita Coolidge (buy it here)
“Swayin’ to the Music”/Johnny Rivers (buy it here)
“Telephone Line” (alternate vocal)/Electric Light Orchestra (buy it here, on the fabulous expanded edition of A New World Record)

(We’ll be on hiatus until sometime next week. Turn off your computer and go play outside.)

4 responses

  1. The radio always knew . . . Nice post!

  2. I was moving into my dorm room for my freshman year of college and I remember all those songs so well. Others songs I heard blasting from other dorm rooms included:
    “Cat Scatch Fever”- Ted Nugent
    “Don’t Stop” -Fleetwood Mac
    “Strawberry Letter 23” -Brothers Johnson
    “Cold As Ice” -Foreigner
    “Do You Wanna Make Love”-Peter McCann

  3. weirdest coincidence ever. i have KJR-FM on here in seattle and they were playing “smoke from a distant fire” as i sat down at the computer and fired up your blog. how’s that for a multimedia experience?

  4. […] Wisconsin, the leaves change and then they fall; the world gets a little bit colder every day. The radio talks to a guy who can’t help but listen, because it knows his life better than he […]

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