Monday, May 4

One song, one picture

T H E  R I V E R  /  B R U C E  S P R I N G S T E E N

It's July 2013, and it's a heatwave. We're staying in the Peak District for a week, in the house where George Eliot wrote Adam Bede. It is square and white with giant doorways and wide floorboards. Fields on all four sides, occasionally occupied by a herd of sheep. They spend the long hot days with their mouths to the grass; sometimes they chomp so loud you can hear it all the way from the belly of the house. Every so often the herd drifts leftways towards the farm buildings and a stillness falls over the fields until their return.

It's July 2013, and it's the summer I discover Bruce Springsteen. Properly discover him. I've discovered him before, of course: in a parked car outside the church (we're late for Mass but Mum won't let us get out until Born To Run's finished playing on the radio); on a long car journey to Stratford (my ipod battery fails, I borrow Mum's, I listen to Thunder Road once, I listen to nothing else for the rest of the ride); and in Hyde Park, and Wembley Stadium, and, one month ago, the Olympic Park (where I stand wide eyed amongst a crowd that smells of hay and beer and happiness).

One evening, that week in July, I pick my way across hens and vegetable patches, jump a fence into the fields. There are flies and birds but the air is quiet, that tranquil kind of peace after the heat of the day. At the far edge of the field there is a bank of rushes and then a river, purplish and wavering, populated by dragonflies and a heron. I have my headphones in. As I approach the water, quite by chance, The River starts to play.

I unplug the headphones, and let the opening notes of the harmonica skim and skid along the river, and up through the trees and peaks beyond. 

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