The first song I'd written in English is called "Louelle."
Well not really the first. That would be a little ditty titled "One Way" (about an unreciprocated romance, of course) I wrote when I was in the sixth grade. I sang it to my sister in the Adam Sandler's retardo-meets-Barry Gibb voice I thought appropriate for it and she of course laughed at my face. Convinced I had no talent for songwriting, I did not write a song again until years later. Great at rebounding from failure and embarrassment I am.
"Louelle", written when I was 17, was inspired by a friend I met at the Philippine Collegian where I spent my most formative years in college. Lou was my editor, a very cool individual and one of my favorite people in the world. If life were, say, a very long stretch of highway and the people you've met are just roadsigns whizzing past you, she would be a nice little rest stop with a park bench and a pond with ducks and a decent washroom with airconditioning. Or something. (Ed.'s note: psst ... don't worry Lou they don't know you're the Lou I'm talking about.)
Anyway, Lou is great at editing works in English since she grew up in the States and English was her first language. Sometimes the guys would try to get her to speak Filipino just so we can snicker at her accent. It's like that movie where Redford White, as a flying superhero of some sort, runs into Superman. White asks "Superman saan ka papunta?" and Superman replies "Poonta akow sa Olongapow kuha akow ng chicks." Also, the fact that Lou had a firm grasp of American idioms came in handy, as in the following real life exchange I've not forgotten for some reason:
L: How's that girl ________(forgot her name)?
Me: Same old slut, probably doing tricks in some back alley.
L: You mean "turning" tricks. Magicians "do" tricks.
Me: (Spacing out, imagining her pulling a pigeon out of a hat)
Now one more thing about Lou also is that she's a very private person who likes to keep to herself so if she's reading this she either a) wants to kill me or b) wants to have me killed to save her the trouble. But this being in the name of Art (my neighbor Art, a serial issuer of bouncing checks), I am sure she will indulge me.
Last night I thought that I was dying
No change to feed the telephone
I had no money for a taxi
And you know how the night leaves you alone, so alone.
Read: When you're 17 and listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins, that's the kind of garbage you're likely to write. And also when I'm sad I like to rock back and forth in the fetal position mumbling "alone... so alone..." The telephone part is dated since nobody uses coin operated payphones anymore. The kids wouldn't be "hip" to it as we used to say in the sixties.
I thought we might bump into each other
Like we had so many nights before
Nothing short of unexpected
And then you'd buy me coffee and walk me home.
Read: Other than the Pumpkins, I'd also been listening to a lot of Lemonheads. I play Evan Dando to Lou's Juliana Hatfield in my own version of the song Drug Buddy.
Our friends look so happy
But they all seem to fake it,
We're so melancholy
I wonder how we make it
I wonder how we make it
Read: In real life our mutual friends from the Collegian weren't happy sorts at all, most of them were a bunch of barely sufferable misanthropes. Melancholy, as I know now, is a noun. But I couldn't change it to "melancholic" as it makes the line sound awkward (the "c" at the end halts the rhythm) . Poetic license.
Oh Louelle, won't you come and save me
Louelle, won't you come and save me.
Read: Just so nobody gets any wrong ideas, Lou was never in the business of saving people nor has she ever made any representation to that effect. This was written in the mid 90s, at the tail end of the "grunge" movement when it was fashionable for a hard-rocking man to sing about his helplessness and vulnerability. Now they call it Emo but that ain't no hard-rocking "man" crying in front of you.
Sometimes I think we should get married
But you don't believe in shit like that.
Do you think we might be quite contented
Someday when we're rich and ordinary?
Read: Heeding the song's rich advice, we got married. Not to each other, no (she now lives in an island far away). And I never really asked her in our conversations about her thoughts on marriage so that second line was made up (as are all the "facts" in this blog suckah!). Now the last two lines of the verse just shows to you how obnoxious a 17 year-old UP student can be when talking about his future prospects. I'm pushing 30, I work my ass of and I'm still not rich. And the country is so mired in grinding poverty there's nothing ordinary about being rich.
And that's that. The song never made it big with my "fans" (mostly because there's no recording of it and they hadn't heard it yet even live). And also because I have no "fans".
But, as Akon would say, it don't matter no. As long as I remember the song I have a piece of the past with me everywhere I go, the melody piping out of the elegant speakers in that marble tiled washroom in my mind.