I been running like a man who’s been running in place
I been actin’ like a fool who can’t remember his place
I been thinkin’ bout the day
when I’m dead and gone
won’t you scatter my ashes and remember this song
–House of Freaks, Lonesome Graveyard
I’ve been listening to that album – Monkey on a Chain Gang – most of the day, and remembering when it came out. I played the vinyl to death, wore out a cassette. 1987. I’m trying to remember what I was doing in 1987.
I must have been working at Sun Micro at the time – I would have been twenty-six or thereabouts. I would have been in the middle of my music scene period, hanging out in downtown clubs most nights of the week, roadieing for several bands. Lotta schlepping amplifiers and a whole lotta drinking. The days when I could drink halfway til dawn and still go to work. The days when the ‘net was still new and I was figuring out how to seduce people with words sent over a wire. Around then I made my first try at writing erotica, a story that embarrasses me now but was remarkably good for a first try, all style but no substance.
Monkey on a Chain Gang was one of the albums I was playing those years. I’m trying to recall what else I was listening to, but not much of it stayed in my heavy rotation. Gun Club stayed, Thin White Rope stayed, and so did American Music Club, and of course Violent Femmes. And this one, more than any of those others. It’s one of the first albums I dropped on the new iPod I got for xmas.
I dunno if Bryan Harvey’s death would have hit me this hard if it was just the music. I mean, I haven’t followed his career since Freaks. I didn’t even really like their later albums that much. But it’s the absolutely horrible image I can’t get out of my mind. It’s not just him. It’s his kids. It’s the fact that his daughter, his little four year old, is like my daughter named Ruby. It’s the fact that they were murdered in their own home.
I can’t get the image out of my mind. And I can’t stop listening to the songs.
…won’t you scatter my ashes and remember this song…