Our trips were always electronic-free. That is to say, we did not bring radios, tape players or Walkmans, those Ipods of the 80’s, for those of you who are wondering. Of course cell phones had not been invented yet, so they were not an issue either. We all agreed that being unplugged for a week was a good thing. The silence of the BW was refreshing to our souls and we knew that all the electronic noise would be waiting for us when the week was over anyway.
There were times though that the noise would follow me into the wilderness and not leave me alone. It always took the form of a single song that would haunt me the whole week long. Often times it was a song that I’d heard on the car stereo on the way up. With Paul being in a band, me a music lover and Rob and Keith hard of hearing, we tended to listen to music at ear splitting levels for much of the trip. It sometimes served to kind of weld the song to your synapses so that no degree of silence could shake it loose.
For me, one year in particular it was a song by U2 named Another Time, Another Place. The song is a great, driving rock anthem and their best song in my opinion. It begins with a guitar fade in by lead guitarist, the Edge. This is followed by a pounding drum intro, Bono’s wailing and the thrum of the bass player. The drum beat throughout the song is a marching beat and is almost hypnotic in the way it sets the pace of the song.
There are a multitude of classic guitar solos and transitional, bridge moments in the song that make it simple to commit to memory; too simple in my case. I must have replayed parts of the song in my head a hundred times a day for most of the trip. Sometimes it would be the fade in guitar introduction. Other times it would be the middle part where Bono holds a note for five seconds. Still others it would be a searing guitar solo near the end of the song.
It usually started first thing in the morning and went for most of the day. It served as a cheap form of entertainment at first. There were times in the day when it broke monotony of sitting around camp. After a while, it began to get annoying. It was a bit like the teenage kid who played the same song over and over in his room to the point that you wanted to scream “Turn that thing off!” The problem was I couldn’t. I tried thinking of other songs, I tried ignoring it, I tried napping it out of my head, but nothing worked. Eventually I gave up and came to terms with the fact that at least it was a good song and not Air Supply or something like that.
The following year it was a Greatful Dead song. The year after that it was a song by Material Issue named Valerie Loves Me. In that song the singer talks about a girl that has no time for him, despite his delusions and he builds to a point where he screams “Valerie loves me!!!” That one about drove me insane. It only took a week to ruin that good song.
One time on a fly-in fishing trip to Canada I was cursed for three days with Tom Petty’s song Zombie Zoo stuck in my cranium. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Tom Petty. He has a multitude of great songs and a number of hits. He also has one of the silliest, most annoying songs ever written, namely Zombie Zoo. I can pin it down to being the last song on the stereo when we got out of the car. Now, Uchi Lake in Ontario Canada will forever be the location of my own Zombie Zoo.
During the year of the U2 song, I was talking to Paul about my radio-head ailment and he said he often experienced the same kind of thing. He said there’s something about the pairing of words with music that allows the brain to remember every little nuance of a song, every subtle chord change, the timing of the pauses, everything.
The brain is an amazing, wonderful, mysterious thing. Regrettably it has no mute button.