Sunday, June 3, 2007

Music Lesson #5

I spent May 5, 2007 at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. A beautiful Saturday afternoon, sitting on a stone bench, listening to the wind shaking the trees. It sounded like the ocean. This is me at the most peaceful spot in all of Metro Manila, surrounded by the dead.

My dad died May 5 all of 21 years ago. Head on car collision along San Manuel, Pangasinan. I was in the car too. So were my mom, sister, uncle, aunt, and two cousins. It took around two months for each of us to recover from our injuries, enough to go home. By then, I'd been told my dad had to be flown to the States for emergency surgery. I did not know he'd been dead for two months already. I found out a few months later, when they finally brought me home where I would spend the good part of a year learning to walk again. For many years I had dreams of my dad walking home from San Manuel, naked except for his briefs. He'd ring the bell in the middle of the night but we'd all be too asleep to open the door for him. And then he walks right back to the scene of the accident. For many years I had trouble sleeping because of that recurring dream.

Years later, I wrote a poem about the experience. As usually happens in poetry workshops, subjective (i.e. actual) details from the source experience are whittled down until all that's left is a set of images that conveys an objective experience. The end result was okay, but I needed something that truly captured the trauma I'd felt from the accident, inTechnicolor, so to speak. I needed something that could convey my interpretation of being 8 years old with my face smashing into the side window of a car. I needed something that could capture the traumatic recurrence of that particular event, maybe the single most important and definitive moment of my life.

I wrote "Car Crash" because the poem couldn't cut it for me. My band Chupacabraz performs the song sometimes and I think the somber accompaniment that builds up and dies down again really captures how the song was intended to be.

Car Crash

Driving to the interior
Between trees I see you
Drawn to the fire

Candles litter the roadside
Lead to the place I
Left you that night

Chorus:
It's all in the give up
All in the let down
Trapped in a small town
Stay for a while

Fall like a rain of
Dismembered angels
Show me some dark clouds
Put on your veil

Put on your veil
Put on your veil
Put on your veil

II
Unread books on the backseat
Spell out your story
Right to the ending

I remember that evening
Strained it of meaning
Drained it to nothing

(Repeat Chorus)

III
I want to do it over
Brace myself for it
Make myself stronger

Sun shines down like a migraine
I'm ready for more pain
So long as I feel it

Chorus II:
So bring in the give up
Nuclear letdown
Foot on the pedal
Picking up speed

All of them children
Breaking to pieces
Strewn on the dashboard
Glow-in-the-dark saints

Glow-in-the-dark saints
Glow-in-the-dark saints
Glow-in-the-dark saints.

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