When all its colors turn and dry
Will you live or will you die?
When all its poets fall away
Will you go or will you stay?
— the prophet Mark Kozelek
It was just another day in Flagstaff. I don’t remember the details, other than we were doing our usual tour. Coffee shop, pizza joint, two outdoor stores, and Gopher Sounds.
Gopher Sounds was one of those independent record stores that were meant to be as much hangout as business. It was on Route 66, surrounded by pretentious art galleries and turquoise jewelry stores. A white board announced upcoming shows. An old wood floor creaked. Listening stations offered up mysterious sounds from bands we’d never heard. Concert posters served as a reminder that music used to be important, not just a soundtrack for TV commercials.
That’s where we discovered Red House Painters. We were two songs into “Old Ramon” when we figured what the heck. We bought it partly because we liked the vibe, and partly because it was important to give money to the guys trying to make a go of it in the era of iTunes and Walmart.
We listened to it on the way home and for a few days afterward. In the “album of the week” mode we used to live in, it got shuffled into the box and I didn’t hear it much. But when I did, it always took me back to that day. The smell of a cold day in Northern Arizona. The feeling of small towns and high altitudes and a feeling that life should be just like this.
I’m listening to Old Ramon today. It’s nice to visit.
I guess you move on. The Loop is what it is. Gopher Sounds is a woman’s boutique. Joe DiMaggio is dead. Sorry, Ernie.
You can’t go back in time. But you can go back to Old Ramon.
Don’t it always seem to go …