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I fall to pieces

Had a phone convo with the ex-wife earlier, wherein I inquired whether she might have any thoughts or feelings on this fantastic song.

Like her former hubby and our amazing daughter (15 in August—FIFTEEN!—Heaven help me, has it really been that long?), Suzie is also a hugely talented multi-instrumentalist, hence my curiosity regarding her opinion of the tune, if any. Never having been much of a CSN fan herself (she’s a lot younger than me, I mean a LOT, so it was well before her time), she couldn’t really remember it, so I sung a few lines over the phone for her, thereby unveiling the powerful emotional effect it’s had on me since the very first time I heard it, back when it was originally released in the late 70s/early 80s.

Y’know, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. In days of old, when knights were bold, and condoms not invented.

See, whenever I hear “Southern Cross” on the car-raygia, I crank the volume way the hell up and sing along with the low-tenor part of the arrangement, as sung by…who, Steven Stills, maybe? Or Graham Nash? DEFINITELY not scraggly old David Crosby, I know that much. Which works out just fine and is a lot of fun, right up until they/we get to the “I have my ship/And all the flags are a-flying/She is all that I have left/And Music is her name” stanzas.

And that’s when I always just lose it completely: my throat closes, my eyes sting and burn, I feel my heart shatter inside my chest, and I have to struggle mightily not to burst into tears and sob like a itty-bitty baby—sometimes successfully, usually not—every single last time, even after all these years. Don’t ask me why, I’ve never understood it myself. Admittedly, there are a few others that hit me deep inside hard, make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and raise goose-bumps on my forearms, and can even choke me up like that sometimes, particularly certain Classical and Romantic-era pieces. But for whatever reason, “Southern Cross” is by far the worst of the lot, and has done it to me Every. Single. Time.

Such was the case day before yesterday, when I heard it played again for the first time in I don’t know when. I halfway thought that, being older, presumably wiser, and out of the music-biz game altogether for nigh on a decade now (which beggars belief for me, I must say), I might have developed an at least partial immunity to falling completely apart at those lines by now. WRONG-O, boy-o! I tootled along with nary a hitch when, all of a sudden-like, at “She is all that I have left,” the same old feeling of overwhelming sadness and inexpressible grief flew all over me again.

It being a glorious day out—warm but not hot, cloudless sky, low humidity, gentle breeze—I had my windows cranked all the way down, as did the girl sitting next to me at the stoplight. So naturally, the poor dear gawped in affrighted wonderment and concern at the bizarre spectacle of this broken-down, crippled old relic at the wheel of the bashed, smashed, ’n’ trashed Burick Grampamobile© flivver alongside her in the right lane, going all kerblooey for no apparent reason as he attempted a sing-along with some stupid Oldie-but-Mouldy she’d never heard the likes of before in a cracking, wavering, old-man warble—what, something-something about a ship, and flags, and an ocean, and some islands or some other such ancient tripe-o-la. Mighta been a long-gone lover in there with the rest of it too, who knows. Or cares.

I mean, this girl clearly didn’t know whether to shit, go blind, throw rocks and head for the hills, or call for a fucking hearse to come sweep up the remains and cart ‘em off to the morgue where they belong. I laid off singing, smiled and waved cheerily at the startled young ‘un, then took off like a scared rabbit when the light finally went green again. When I was safely back home, I pulled up the vid on YewToob and started putting this post together.

Some things never change, I guess.


5 thoughts on “I fall to pieces

  1. Totally relatable. Some of those old songs just crack me right the fuck up, and it can be rough if it happens in public.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    1. Right there with ya, man.
      Taxi especially kills me, because I was headed to OCS to fly jets when I got dropped by half of a smoking hot pair of red-head twins, and mine was the one who was going to be an actress.

  2. Mike,
    I love seeing the trio singing it, but the one you picked is the K-Tel bargain-bin version of the song, and a minute short. You’re missing the entire last chapter of it, it’s 4:41 or so long.

    So we cheated and we lied and we tested,
    And we never failed to fail,
    It was the easiest thing to do.

    You will survive being bested.
    Somebody fine will come along
    Make me forget about loving you
    And the Southern Cross.

    Maybe swap in or add this full cut from CSN themselves:

    1. Yep, sho ’nuff did. No excuse; I didn’t notice it until I’d already posted it, so I just said what the hell and let it be. You can be sure I adjusted my YewToob playlist accordingly, though. Screw that AM-radio bowdlerization shit. 😉

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