First, it comes in through the window, sort of a breath of wind. You barely notice it until it tousles your hair. That is when you lift your head from the keyboard and see your reflection in the glass, and you stare at yourself and try to draw what looks like a smile. You grab a pencil and gaze at the way your fingers encircle it, and you start turning it around, trying to understand how that wind takes a hold of your inner self. You write scattered words, keys with aerial chords—or that is what you think, perhaps it’s only what you’ll imagine later... Notes from Rick’s bass float from the basement, intertwined with Garth’s newly-created harmonies and Dylan’s laugh. You try to capture everything: that air, the open window, your reflection, and the casual feel of those purposeless sounds, of that joy—you try to bind them to that melody you have been chasing the whole summer... And then, the wind slams the window shut, and it startles you, and the pencil falls down to your feet. When you lift your head up again, you know that all those things will play a part in a song that mentions tears... And you realize that it is already gone.
Richard tells me so while sitting at the wheel of my caravan, looking out the windshield as if driving through the snow. When I’m about to inquire after that absence, he finishes his story with three sad and short words, an unseasonal farewell he mutters as he lights a cigarette:
“Merry Christmas, Nar.”
We are in the middle of August, and he smiles at me, as if he knew that we won’t be living at Big Pink when the year is over, because, by then, the miracle of the basement will be over too.