I was staring out to sea the other day, with a partial lyric running through my head. I kept reaching for the song, and the performer, but it stayed just beyond my grasp. It wasn’t a particularly poetical piece, in fact, it was literal to my circumstances:
“You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back…”
Yup, that was what I was doing, and that was the fragment. Although, the first day, I wasn’t standing with mountains at my back, they were in front of me:
By Saturday lunchtime I got it the right way round, with ocean in front, but I still couldn’t remember the song. A Teenage Fanclub tune? Nope. Sad to say, I know their songs inside out, and it wasn’t them. Being a person capable of holding on to deep thoughts, and always prepared to grapple with a problem, I completely forgot the lyric for a couple of days and got on with whatever it is I’m supposed to do.
On Wednesday, I received an email from an old friend. We’ve been plotting and postponing an old guy road trip, with stops at baseball places (for him), musical references in songs (for both of us), and craft breweries yet to be tried by either of us (for him!) The latest plan involved parts of California, a favourite for a road trip, and it had me humming “California Bound” by Black Francis/Frank Black or however he refers to himself. As well as being buddies in beer, my friend and I share the same dubious musical tastes, so Frank Black, the Pixies etc. would make it onto a road trip mix tape. Can you call a digital playlist a mix tape?
Much like a canceled road trip, you might be finding this post isn’t really going anywhere. Anyway, prompted by the postponed plans, I played “California Bound” and then let the album (Black Letter Days) run, because I’d forgotten how hugely enjoyable this rambling country tinged guitar and reedy/basso and sometimes falsetto voiced album is. He writes and performs as if, well, why not? So listen I did. And there it was! The song with the partial lyric that had wormed its way into my musical mind. “End of Miles” by Frank Black. Phew! Mystery solved, and a fine song if you like that kind of thing. The more complete lyric is:
“At the end of miles
You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back you think you’ve tamed”
Well, I haven’t tamed any mountains – at best, I think it is safe to say I’m always happy to head up and then make it back. Hiking, or on a snowboard, and especially on skis, getting home is the thing. I don’t tame mountains, but I do love them.
I haven’t reached my end of miles just yet. Very happy to be residing on the coast, between the mountains and the sea, but also looking forward to the “grumpy old git road trip“ and being California bound, likely now scheduled for 2022 or beyond…
I’ll leave it for this week, with a post almost as meandering as a Frank Black album, full of detours, and incomplete stories, but written because, well, why not?
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Bonus track: “1826” by Frank Black Oh yes! Turn it up to 11 – if Mrs. PC is out. Probably not for everyone, but this should go on a road trip mix tape.
15 thoughts on “End of miles”
Your musical dilemma reminds me of a Big Bang episode where Sheldon had a ear worm! He couldn’t figure out what the tune was? Turns out it was a tune by the Beach Boys.
Hum away safely!
Once they wriggle their way in, you have to work it out!
I listened to a CBC radio program once and the expert on this sort of stuff said to get rid of a ear worm all you need to do is hum a short TV commercial song. Not enough notes to addict you but familiar enough to overtake your minds attention.
Catchy lyrics. I think I am having some deafness because I had to turn up the music to hear his lyrics. The first twangs of the guitar did remind me of California, more specifically , The Eagles. I tried it a couple of times, but not my cup of tea, however I appreciate when a song from the past rises in the mind, stirring up memories. Have a good week…
Thanks, Jane! Yes, he’s a bit of a mumbling vocalist, and the style is borderline grunge, so not easy to catch the words.
Enjoy your week, and stay safe!
“End of Miles” is a good tune for the road, coming or going, but each time that I’ve thought of Frank Black my brain’s gone frozen on Eno’s “Blank Frank” and its Fripp guitar outro & oblivion… But baseball, music, and breweries… Ah, delights just right for the miles & miles!
Thanks, Walt! Hopefully, there are plenty of miles still to cover, and games, music and beers to discover…
I will be checking out the Blank Frank tip, being a sucker for a guitar outro!
I so enjoyed this post, pc, as I always do. Your phrases and thoughts, and the resolution of the song that kept dancing in your brain. I, too, love mountains and road trips and have so many favorite tunes always streaming through my head. Here was my favorite sentence today: “Being a person capable of holding on to deep thoughts, and always prepared to grapple with a problem, I completely forgot the lyric for a couple of days and got on with whatever it is I’m supposed to do.” I laughed and chuckled a lot at this clever sentence. Many thanks, dear pc, and best wishes and big smiles to Mrs. pc. (BTW, if your future road trip goes through No. Calif., don’t be a stranger.)
Thanks for the feedback, Jet, very much appreciated. Every now and then, a sentence falls out of the pen – I enjoy the “twisty” ones when they happen – and if a reader gets to chuckle, that’s pretty good!
California will feature on this long in the planning trip, and we’re bound to be in your area – SF and surrounds are under explored by both of us. Mrs. pc will be along for some of the ride (she has her limits when it comes to grumpy old men, but wouldn’t want to miss California!) and we’ll be sure to let you know our plans.
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I’ve never listened to Black Francis’ (as I still call him) solo stuff much, but I used to be REALLY into the Pixies. Swerving off on a tangent, per usual, have you ever read Mark Train’s “The Punch Brothers?” A little anecdote about earworms…
I think Black Francis is the one to choose!
Don’t know the story, but I’ll be looking it up – thanks, Bob!
I loved reading your thoughts, Adam. Hopes, dreams, lyrics… I hope that trip to California is in your near future. 🙂 Love your images that accompany your dreams.
Thanks, Jane! We’re confident it’ll happen, and realistically, it’ll be 2022. Some coastal California, and perhaps some desert time. Landscapes to encourage dreaming, before, during, and after…
Stay safe and well!
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Wonderful to see the beautiful scenery on the coast and that you’re kind enough to make sure your buddy visits those craft breweries (thank you for the laugh)!! What baseball places are on the list? Always enjoy listening to something new and wonder what I was listening to that somehow made me miss out on Black Francis/Frank Black/Pixies over the years. I think you guys should rent a cool classic car for your future road trip with a cassette player to enjoy the real mix tape experience again (definitely need a convertible for California). I’m glad the Capitals and Maple Leafs being in first place can help me forget what has happened to the Premier League. Enjoyed the musical rambling and hope you had another wonderful weekend on the coast and enjoy the week!
Haha, I just went back over the latest itinerary my buddy sent me, to identify the “baseball” places, and it dawned on me that I know nothing about the sport. I’m ashamed to say all the towns could be baseball centres, but I’ve little idea. My research tended to lean towards breweries. We ended up agreeing if there’s a baseball team of note, there are bound to be breweries…
A classic car would be great, although neither of us is hugely mechanically minded, and I could see a desert breakdown happening. The car, too.
Spurs? Everton?! Premier League has been hard to watch recently! At least it was a happier hockey night on Saturday, with the Flames halting a worrying slide
Stay safe and have a great week!
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