3 min read

Scenes from a Morning

In which my husband and I discuss music

My husband and I lived apart for a significant chunk of our relationship: first while I was in Cornwall and he was in Glasgow; then while he was in Glasgow and I was in Ottawa. But now that we're in the same place, we still occasionally operate in different time zones.

I'm happiest when I wake between 7:00 and 8:00 AM; he's happiest when he wakes between 10:00 and 12:00. Some mornings we compromise by getting up at 9:00, a touch too late for me and too early for him, but then he makes me coffee and plays me music I haven't heard before or tells me interesting facts about music I only know through 90s cover versions and it's all in all quite companionable.

This morning, for example: he was playing Roy Orbison's "You Got It."

"Roy Orbison, right." He stood, leaning back against the kitchen sink. "He had a few hits in the 60s, but then he was lost in the wilderness for years. But then David Lynch used one of his songs in one of his movies in the 80s, and Roy Orbison -- who was a huge film buff -- saw it, and loved it! It gave him a whole new perspective on his own music! So he wrote this song, and it was a hit!"

"Aw, that's so --"

"And then he had a heart attack and died!"

Few and far between are the anecdotes my husband tells me about musicians that end happily. The only one I can think of is Bill Withers, in which case the anecdote was that he made a bunch of money and quit the business while he was still healthy and cheerful.

I berated him for telling me yet another miserable story and wandered off to the couch to sip my delicious, delicious coffee and read. He queued up another Roy Orbison song: "I Drove All Night." These are the lyrics:

I drove all night to get to you
Is that all right?
I drove all night, crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep to make love to you
Is that all right?
I drove all night

"That's pretty creepy," says I, from the couch. "I imagine him climbing into this lady's room and her saying 'Uh, no Roy Orbison, this is not all right, yes in fact you SHOULD have called ahead, I'm tired and have work tomorrow, I don't care that you drove all night, sleep on the floor."

Stu chortled. I got up and walked back into the kitchen.

"It does remind me of a genre of ballad, though. This guy Sweet William wants to see his Lady Margaret, so he sets off on his horse across the Clyde water -- "

"Was that when the Clyde was still tiny, before they dug it deep?"

"No no, this was when the Clyde was a fierce and raging river."


"So our boy Willie says to the Clyde, 'Your streams are wondrous strong, make me a wreck as I come back, but spare me as I'm going.'"

Stu frowned, but made no comment on Willie's lack of forethought, which was generous of him.

"And he makes it across! He trots over to his lady's tower. BUT! Her MOTHER is at the window, disguised as Margaret, and she calls down 'go away, my lad, my bower's full of gentlemen already, if you know what I mean,' and poor Willie leaves -- "

"Wait, but where was the real Margaret?"

"Ah, she was ASLEEP, and in fact dreaming of her Sweet William! And she wakes up and asks her mother what's going on and her mother says she sent him away, so Margaret takes off after him!"


"And they both drown in the Clyde!"


Ballads. The original dire musician stories! He berated me in turn.