The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Thursday, April 5, 2001

Chance Encounter

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: What I once loved about the radio was the seemingly "chance" way in which your life intersected with a song. There you were, riding in the car, daydreaming — when without any warning, some life-changing piece of music like the 13th Floor Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me" or Dylan's "Positively Fourth Street" came crashing out of the car radio. That doesn't happen to me very often anymore; I almost never listen to the radio, for obvious reasons. So my chance encounters are more likely to happen in stores or cafés or restaurants. The other day, I was in a Portland magazine shop when I heard this song — or more like a shadow of a song. Just a voice, talking the lyrics more than singing them, with the most sparse accompaniment on electric guitar. I stopped looking at whatever I was looking at and just listened. Then I went up to the counter and asked the guy in the knit hat what he was playing. Turning to where there were piles of CDs by the stereo, he found a CD case and handed it to me: Reverse Eclipse by Geoff Farina. "He's in a couple of bands, Karate and Secret Stars," the guy said. I'd never heard of either. All I knew then was that I was really moved by this one song, "Fixable." The song is written as if the guy singing it is directly addressing a girl. He's just realized that whatever he had with her isn't working out. "About your car, fixable, definitely," it begins. "We'll make it graceful again like you are." Guitarist Josh Larue plays a low chord, another, a few notes, a chord, a minor chord with a little tremolo. Farina sings about spending the day with her, and about trying to "catch the moon at five because the summer sky is just that way." And then he asks: "About how long will these freedoms wait for me? About how long will the changes take to feel like they've changed?" In the store, it was all about a melancholy sound, and about some hope I caught at the end. So I walked up the street a block and a half, went into Ozone Records and bought a copy of Reverse Eclipse. It wasn't until I got it home and listened again and again and read the lyrics that I got a sense of what it's about. I don't know — sometimes I think I see what I want to see in the lyrics of the songs I love. This song, "Fixable," seems to be about growing up. It's about wondering when that freedom you sometimes feel when you're young — in your late teens and early twenties — when you've recently moved out of your parents' house and you're on your own, wondering when it's gonna end. Wondering when you're gonna become an adult, when everything is gonna turn to grey. When you're not gonna try to catch the moon at five anymore. "And how many summers will I spend this way with the phone off the hook, at the pace of the rain?" Farina sings. That's when the part about it not working out happens. "I'm not on your side, I realized yesterday," he says. There's a lot in that line, and a lot more when you hear that guitar under it, and Farina's voice, so vulnerable. He could have ended it there, and it would have been a song about a relationship that ended badly. He didn't, though. For me, this is what makes this song something else. In the line that follows, he suggests the possibility — just the possibility, and nothing guaranteed — of the two of them sharing something new together. "So don't ask me for a ride — there's no telling what I might say, because tonight I want out, unless you can show me another way. Tonight I just want out, unless you can show me another way." When he sings that line, it feels like the clouds have blown away a little, and you can see some blue sky.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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