There’s a British band I like called Elbow.
The lead singer has a great voice, very grown up and melodic, which does justice to the rock ballads they do very well.
I learned about Elbow a few years ago.
I met a man on Salon.com and we had a phone conversation that centered round music. We both were interested in diverse types, but more than that, music played a big part in both our lives. So we talked for an hour or more, before ever meeting, about our musical tastes, about bands we’d seen live, about how our tastes had changed over time.
He said, “Name your top five bands of all time.”
I think I said, The Beatles, U2, Van Morrison, the Stones, and the Police. We argued over Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, The Who, and decided that his top five were really a top ten. I understood that. Were we talking strictly rock? No R and B? Things get sticky when you try to make top ten lists. You have to be specific.
We agreed to meet.
There’s a teashop in my neighborhood. It’s an outpost of a hipster franchise, but whatever. I’m not a tea drinker particularly, but they have good homemade baked goods.
I walked in the door, and the guy was there. He was nice looking. But when he saw me, his face fell. Just like that. I heard it drop—it clattered when it hit the floor. His disappointment was so obvious that I knew I would never see him again, and we hadn’t even said Hello.
What’s funny about this is that he’d seen my picture. I look like my picture. It was recent. I had not lied about my age, my height, or my weight. I generally do not lie about things that are on my driver’s license. I am fairly thin, not curvy. If he had specific physical requirements, he probably should have made them clear beforehand. Maybe he thought I carried all my weight in my chest, but I don’t.
Anyway, he managed to be polite, and we sat, drank tea, and talked for over an hour. He had made me a CD, which he gave to me.
And on the CD was a variety of new music I’d never heard before including a song called Scattered Black and Whites by Elbow. This act of generosity prompted a search for the rest of their music, and resulted in an enduring love affair, not between the guy and me, but between Elbow and me.
I haven’t seen the guy since—don’t even remember his name. But I enjoy Elbow every day.