Cocteau Twins for Life


Perhaps more than any band I’ve loved it is the Cocteau Twins that have seen me most thoroughly through life.

My bedroom window in our home on the corner of Kingston Road and some other road that ended in a cul-de-sac which name escapes me looked out on the side yard. The green of the grass I can still see, can still feel the calluses where fingers meet palm. I raked the leaves in that yard more times than I remember.The green green ended in a tree line, little pines, I think, their needles long and sharp, falling in bound little bouquet like clumps. The brown crusty edge of the woods, with rocks, little spaces where I sat and read.

My window had curtains, and the panes were separated with wood strips that clipped in and out of plastic notches, easier to clean that way. My window looked out at the sun, at the approaching cars beyond, cars going home to two car garages.

I had a boom box, radio and cassette. It was black and small, I can see it fitting in well at an aerobics class, held aloft by leotarded headbanded leg warmered cheerful instructor.

I held it in my window at a sharp angle. I scanned the dial until I found it. The college radio station from the University of Rhode Island, in Providence. Well to the south, across a bridge, the station came in my bedroom window at a sharp angle. I held it there. I taped over the notch in cassette tapes of Tiffany, to record over her sweet, saccharine, pop sound that I never liked, that I always wondered why it had been gifted to me by step-uncles who liked U2 and could easily have given me something in the realm of musical taste. I taped over her voice and cover songs the first released tracks of Heaven or Las Vegas.

The dreamy, ethereal, driving, pounding, seductive, sensuous, melodic, soul releasing sound, noise meets Joni Mitchell, punk meets the green green brown wood line. I felt aloft when I listened. I felt removed and distant. I felt Okay. With a capital O. With a soothing. With a sound of acceptance and love. With joy and yeah, release. Release from? Release into?

In college I sat in a boy’s room while he was at class. I read his books and waited. I listened to Blue Bell Knoll, we listened to it together, we felt a thing that we felt together, when previously I’d felt it apart. I discovered Garlands at the used record shop. I wailed and wailed to it. I felt my burdens lifted.

In high school, my dear friend R, and we would mouth the incoherent words from Head Over Heels and we would laugh and we would float along on the air of sugar hiccups in Philadelphia spring time of wonder, of where are we, of who are we, of who knows what these words are, all the better to sing them out loud.

Coming down off crazy trips to learn about doors into consciousness, to shift perspective and get another glimpse of how reality could be, turn on these sounds, Treasure spilling in lurid fantasy out of my perfect compact 5 disc changer that I still have high in the closet in hopes I can find some speakers that connect to the odd boxy connectors. Make love in the sound, in the sunlight climbing slow, like my mind, climbing.

Four Calendar Cafe gave me hope for being an artist mom, creating work of high standards and beauty without capitulating to any expectations that were not my own. Opening to the beauty of the mother child duality, the divinity of that collaboration.

My son can’t sleep, often plagued by nightmares, just as I was at his age, and for so long after. I relate. I tell him brains are funny places, full of all kinds of ideas, and we don’t have to take ownership for all of them. We don’t have to believe everything our brains tell us. We can interpret our sensory data, even the internal stuff. I play for him Victorialand. It holds within it all the terror of nightmare, with all the softness, acceptance of the softness, the security of knowing that fear is part of things always, that the softness and love are ours, that there is. There is fully. There is fully in all this fury and difficulty and insecurity, there is kindness, there is to be held tight and to share it and float atop reality, just out of reach of it.

And I wonder at the snippets of intelligibility of these songs, only bits of words and phrases, that I can string out like cotton candy threads, weaving what I need, letting the gossamer filaments spin out like spider web tendrils in the sun.

There is the me who in travel, double checks to make sure every album is loaded on my phone, that stupid itunes hasn’t inexplicably removed it during the last sync. There is a solid weightlessness in this sound that both secures me to this moral coil and sets me free. In a plane over land I am moving, and all these moments flood back to me. The melodies drift into the cabin and out into the clouds. “I only want to love with you.”

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