Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cold Trail Blues

Cold trail blues
I could use
Any kind of sign
That you’re still on the line

Cold trail blues
I’ve been searching throughout the world for you
No matter how I call
I’m no closer at all

It’s almost like you never came
I swear I almost lost your name
Once you meant so much to me
I thought your love would set me free

It's a modern-day psalm, and I hear it the way I hear David's laments, although I'm sure there are many followers of Peter Case who simply hear it as an unrequited love song. And it is certainly that. But it's so much more.

I've noticed a couple things. First, the trail gets colder when you leave the trail. Imagine. You wander off, seeking a shortcut through the woods, and before you know it the trail seems hopelessly hidden, impossible to find. Second, usually through no discernible navigational skills of your own, it is sometimes miraculously possible to stumble back onto the trail. Who knows why this happens? You have nothing to do with it. One moment you're secure in your lostness, rambling aimlessly, figuring that any minute now you'll forge a new trail that will be just as good as the old one, even though you haven't seen a fellow traveler for weeks and you're out of food and water. The next moment you're plucked from your rootless wandering and set back on the path. It's almost like somebody was watching out for you. Or maybe you just stumbled into grace. Again. It works either way.

Cold trail blues
Something I need that I just can’t find
Is it too late now?
Am I too far behind?

There’s a whole new crowd out here
And they just don’t seem to care
Still I keep searching through this gloom
I’ll find your trail right through this room

Cold trail blues
Something I need that I just can’t see
Is it too late now?
Are you here inside of me?

Cold trail blues
I could use
Any kind of sign
That you’re still on the line
-- Peter Case, “Cold Trail Blues”

I've had the cold trail blues. Anybody who tells me they haven't is either deluded or functioning on such an elevated spiritual plane than I'd be reluctant to hang out with them for fear of contaminating their blissful existence. But sometimes the signs that you could sorely use present themselves anyway, almost unbidden. You might not even recognize the signs as the means of rescue. You might view them as unwelcome interference, pointers that you don't need, clear directions out of the maze when you could have eventually figured it out for yourself. That's why the best signs are unusually clear and direct, and say things like "This way, moron." Sometimes that's what it takes. Those of you who know me, remind me to tell you about some of the signs I've seen of late. They've been in big, bold letters, and they've been lit with neon. Right now I can see the trail, and I feel stupid and thankful.

2 comments:

gb said...

Here's to our billboards.

Gary

Gar said...

I'd love to hear of them sometime Andy. I can relate to everything you have said here very well.