Embers: Unrequited Love

We planned this adventure for quite some time.
Precious hours in her holiday weekend.
Like a habit I just couldn’t break
Or a song grudgingly penned
I clung to the memories like rhyme.
I might not have had the most noble intentions.
I’ll be the first to admit that that’s true.
Rode the bus all the way to the campus
Under skies of gray and blue
And opened my eyes from illusions.
What you might think is a dying ember
Might turn out to be boredom
And someone you think you know so well
Might turn out to be a stranger.
I still to this day have dreams about her.
(Nightmares for those who really care.)
Fantasies of happiness mixed with despair
For the imperfect couple we once were.
Lying in my bed, both of us fully clothed
She leaned over and whispered in my ear
A question I dreaded and hoped I’d never hear
Which told me that I’d been bought and sold.
Callous and coldly she uttered these words;
‘Do you know how many men I’ve slept with?’
The flame I had tended was nothing but my myth.
Emotions and memories were stirred.
After that the afternoon kinda died.
The answer, by the way, didn’t matter.
I walked her to the bus, said ‘goodbye’ amidst the clatter
And knew I’d never see her in the same light.

One of many songs about my high school girlfriend, this describes her last visit to CMU. It was about a year after we’d ‘broken up’ although we’d dated a few times over the previous Summer. I think she was on semester break from her school and had taken a city bus from her parents’ neighborhood to downtown Pittsburgh where I met her. I don’t remember the circumstances very well, but I remember being nervous while waiting for her in the square and excited when she finally arrived. We took the easy bus trip up to campus together and spent maybe 2 hours in my dorm room (I lived alone) having a really weird conversation while I unsuccessfully attempted to seduce her. I guess I hoped we’d reconcile or maybe I just wanted to get laid, but I do remember feeling tender towards her and being really disappointed and a little repulsed to find out she was more interested in ‘experimenting’ with her classmates at her college than submitting to the monogamous relationship I wanted. The line “do you know how many men I’ve slept with?” is a direct quote although the lyric conveniently omits most of the relevant context.

The song was recorded in Youngstown, Ohio in my friend Jack Chamberlain’s apartment on his 4-track PortaStudio during the Spring/Summer of 1984 and includes Jack’s new drum machine. I played all the instruments (guitars, synth bass and synth solos), sang both harmonies, and programmed the drum machine.

Originally recorded in 4-track mono. Mixed to stereo cassette (2-track) in 1984. Re-engineered to digital from the stereo mixdown using Cool96 September 1999

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