Writing last week about song lyrics and their link to poetry and vice versa, https://www.newstatesman.com/2019/01/literature-lyrics-0?fbclid=IwAR27_QLDgs8TauLUYlSuGKnthsdmAzwi8l9co98_UDkh6euF1FLPNhTJ1_M
set me thinking about the lyrics that have been constantly present - swimming to the surface of my consciousness in times of heightened emotion. As I’ve thrown open the kitchen door on a perfect summer’s day, I’ve belted out Richard Rodgers’ ‘There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow!’. Remembering my mother, the words that seemed to define her dissatisfaction in almost every aspect of her life, would be Peggy Lee singing Jerry Lieber’s ‘Is that all there is?’
‘If that's all there is my friends,
then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.’
But the lyric that stands out for me personally, the lyric that eventually effected a change in my lifewould be two lines in the song 'Question' sung by the Moody Blues and written by Justin Hayward.
I am in my mid-twenties, working in Oxford Street in London’s West End. I remember, morning after morning, emerging from the tube station – the sky presenting itself - always the most beguiling shade of blue. In my head run the words, ‘I’m looking for someone to change my life. I’m looking for a miracle in my life.' I repeat and repeat these two lines, as I dawdle towards the bridal shop where I’m an invoice clerk, my gaze fixed on that blue sky, wishing for a miraculous intervention. And still those same two lines, three years later, coming out of another tube station, and two more years later, battling my way through the commuting crowds at Liverpool Street.
In my youthful wishes, I imagined that the ‘someone to change my life’ would be a romantic someone. But no, it has been a series of friends and strangers who have often inadvertently passed on their wisdom. They have nudged, pushed, and enticed me towards change. I know now that miracles do happen, but most of them take years, in my case fifteen years to reach fruition, to become a perfect miracle – a moment when I looked back and thought, “Bloody hell, it’s a miracle how my life has been transformed. How the devil did that happen?’
I still love that song. These days every word resonates, perhaps far more than those two particular lines. I no longer need someone to change my life or another miracle. This is fact not complacency.
VG Lee's second short story collection Oh You Pretty Thing will be launched at Polari Salon, Southbank Centre, London on the 15th February and at The Printworks, Hastings on the 27th February.
Phonebox Photograph by Justin David