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A LONELY ROAD

July 8, 2013 12:00 am by: Category: Columns, The Smashed Pumpkin 1 Comment

It was not Sunday night.

It was late on a Wednesday, after visiting a video art exhibit by a couple of acquaintances at the UP Film Center. What I do recall was that they were serving pizza at the reception, and that it was wet and rainy that afternoon. I also recall leaving late, not long after someone I liked back then arrived.

I had just bought Ciudad’s then-new album Follow The Leader. The album’s carrier single had been on my mind for the last few weeks, from the moment the band released a teaser video with its accompanying art by Jazz Nicolas (the band’s keyboard guy as of late, more well known as the Itchyworms’ drummer). And that song had a charming simplicity that got me hooked from the second the bass and drums played the song’s backbeat.

There were no jeepneys in UP after ten. The only choice was to walk. And the album, it turned out, was great walking music. The pace of the first two songs was enough to put a spring in one’s step. A slow song provided a bit of a change, but when “There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night” played, it felt quite different. The bracing cold air blew on me as the first chorus played. And ahead, the sidewalk on University Avenue was almost dark.

I was still walking, but I was paying attention to a few little things. How the keyboard part matched the feel of the night air. Or how the backbeat kept me moving as I could notice very little in the way of human company. Or the part where the song spoke of darkness itself just as I was crossing an isolated stretch of sidewalk.

I played the song again. Not long after, I ended up at the intersection of C.P. Garcia and University Avenue. A jeepney was waiting at the stoplight, and those of us who were walking were relieved to get on board. As the jeep started up again, a slower waltzy ballad played. The magic was over, sort of.

Not long after, I was at a film festival. At a reception for its opening night, I was with a couple of filmmakers and I shared the song with them. Outside, I could glimpse the storm as it was shaking the coconut trees across the street, and I knew it was going to be wet and cold again. It’s been a year since the album came out. Perhaps “There’s a Lonely Road…” will continue to be the trigger for memories of days happy and sad and how music in general makes sense of the storms in our lives.

Oddly enough, this site gets launched today, the 13th of July. The first song of the album, “Due Dates,” begins this way:

“Catching up on due dates/it’s the thirteenth of July/A storm is coming/on the news.”

Hopefully, there won’t be a storm when we begin the road to Sunday night, after the Vandals party is over.

The Smashed Pumpkin is a writer based in Metro Manila. Follow this column for more of his adventures and misadventures in the gig scene.

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