My wife tells me I should write science fiction. I’ve done science fact before, in life and music, but I think I would be crap at writing science fiction. Nevertheless, this is my first fully science-fiction-short-story-song.
We were in Oahu, Hawaii, just arrived from Osaka; flying over the pacific in that direction means that you cross the international date line; I took off at 11pm on April 25th, flew for ten hours, and landed just after noon on April 25th, 11 hours before I took off. I found this pretty irresistible and started to think about a story of a time traveller who can travel one day into the past. I’m not sure how many times they can do it, but the song implies more than once, and more than once for the same day – but not further than one day. I had in mind that this might be due to some Lovecraftian effect – H P Lovecraft sited his Cthulhian city of R’lyeh close to the Pole of Isolation (“close to the Pole of Nothing Is Here”), the point on the planet furthest from land, which is in the South Pacific, not a million miles from where I’d been*. Point Nemo is also where they send autonomous spacecraft to die, so maybe that has something to do with this limited form of time travel.
A young man (the “I” of the story) meets an old man in a bar who can travel one day into the past; they fight, and the old man goes back in time to repeat the incident, hoping for a more cordial outcome; the second time**, the younger man learns the old man’s trick, and they fight again; this time, the younger man goes back, but the older man has evaded him, and they never meet again. And while the older man had become frustrated and bitter with the limitations and complications of his gift, the younger man seemed happy about how it had allowed him to make different decisions and get a bit wiser. There is a bit of a sense of his fraying at the edges though. Did that story make sense to you from the song? I feel like I had to pack in a lot of detail and it’s hard in a small number of verses, music is usually better at conveying emotion or metaphor than complex plotting.
I’m not sure I can really pull off John Frusciante-style guitar playing, but I have had a damn good go. Next week, I will launch into an extended metaphor about the vulnerability of the human body to cosmic extremes.
*actually, it seems to be a pretty long way from both Osaka and Honolulu, by definition at least 1,400 nautical miles from either. Google Maps doesn’t allow me to measure the distance to Point Nemo (?!?!??!)
**for the old man – at the start of the song, the young man has no idea they’d met -“It seemed unlikely he’d met me before”.
Pre order Year of The Bird, Volume 2 at https://palebird.bandcamp.com/album/year-of-the-bird-volume-2 this week and you’ll get the download of this track (and all previous tracks) right away, and the full album when it’s released on July 8th, 2019! Why not listen to Volume 1, too: https://palebird.bandcamp.com/album/year-of-the-bird-volume-1