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The other day I almost died listening to my favorite song

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

The other day I almost died listening to my favorite song. I don’t mean to be overdramatic because it wasn’t a close call but it was at least the kind of occurrence that gives you a little perspective. We were leaving Breckenridge headed back to Denver and I was driving through the mountains on I-70. My buddy was sitting shotgun and navigating while also playing the music and he’s the one who put it on. The thing is I never would have put it on myself and no one knows that “Tupelo Honey” is my favorite song because I never show it to anyone so when my friend put on the Van Morrison classic, I sat there quietly and merely requested that he not skip the track. We were about halfway through the song when it happened, appearing like a bat out of hell, a red SUV came blazing down the shoulder headed the wrong way. I moved the car slightly to the left and was able to get out of the way without even going into the next lane but looking in the rearview mirror, I saw that I was lucky and the cars behind me had to swerve well into the other lane because the shoulder wasn’t as wide and the red SUV was forcing them over or they’d have risked a head on collision driving seventy miles an hour on the interstate in the Rocky Mountains. It was crazy to say the least but, in the moment, it really wasn’t that big of a deal and it happened so fast that nobody but my buddy in the front seat and I really saw it until it was past us. Nonetheless, we were left to wonder what was going on until we got a few miles further down the road and found the accident the red SUV had left of five other cars, one of which was a cop car and figured it must’ve been a car chase.

All this time “Tupelo Honey” is still playing and I think, if anything, it must have relaxed me. Typically, I would be kind of pissed if my favorite song had been interrupted because I only allow myself to listen to it four or five time a year because I don’t want to spoil it, I don’t want it to become like every other song that I get obsessed with, listen to semi-repetitively for weeks or months and then get sick of.

I first found the album that goes by the same name going through records in my grandpa’s basement one summer. He mostly had Perry Como and a bunch of variety albums of standards or big band tunes but there were a few I had heard of and one was Van Morrison. When I dropped the needle on that vinyl I was completely taken in, I’d never had that experience with a song before and I was completely entranced for six minutes and fifty-five seconds. It was a true instance of feeling like I had been chosen by a song in the way that it was able to hit me so perfectly. From then on, I knew it was special and so I protected it. At first, I would only listen the vinyl I had because I only listened to my vinyl’s on special occasions and that helped to keep it fresh. Later on, I invented the five-times a year limit to help keep from ruining it since Spotify had come into play and I moved onto a sailboat where vinyl’s are much less practical. The point of all this being that this is a song I hold sacred and have always kept to myself, as to make sure it doesn’t get ruined.

As the day went on, I couldn’t help but think back on the instance and, more notably, the fact that it had happened while we were listening to my favorite song, feeling that it was maybe some sort of sign. I’m probably only thinking this way because I’m reading Gerry Lopez’s book and he ties many of his near-death experiences surfing with life lessons but the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that the universe was trying to tell me something. This is what I’ve been dwelling on for the last few days, and I’m not totally sure still what it is that the universe is telling me but I think it might be simply that I should share this song. What kind of person am I that I sequestered this song to myself selfishly in hopes to not ruin it? As James Baldwin wrote of a Harlem pianist in “Sonny’s Blues”, “he was giving it back, as everything must be given back, so that, passing through death, it can live forever.” This sentiment that I’ve always believed to be so true, yet I didn’t see the clear instance in front of me where I was doing the exact opposite. For this reason, I am saying today, go listen to it, “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison, it’s really just a kick ass song, one that has meant many different things to me over the years. A song that’s carried me through lows and helped me celebrate highs, that has been almost like a friend for comfort when I’ve needed it. I hope you like it, I hope it serves you well and you pass it on and play it for other people too, just don’t let me catch you playing it around me.

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