So I’ve been spending some time recently filtering through “stuff.” That is, combing through piles, boxes, and closets full of belongings in the attempt to get our house ready for sale. One thing that’ll wreck our chance of a sale, even more so than walls painted in disturbing (read: not beige) colors, is the presence of the evil clutter. So be it. It’s tough and dusty work but somebody’s got to do it and let’s face it, I’m the one who has allowed it to build up.
As I go through a small box I find a dried up pencil eraser, some tokens for free plays at an arcade, a paperback book with the front cover torn off. All of these things should have been tossed years ago, but I can’t give them up. But then I find the box with my old 45′s, some rock buttons (Springsteen. Yeah, imagine that!), a baseball-sized geode I bought during a trip to the Luray Caverns back when I was in eight grade. Now we’re talkin’!
And while I’m (slowly) going through these anti-clutter activities, icons are dying: Whitney Houston, Levon Helm, Adam Yauch, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Donna Summer, and now Robin Gibb. The objects tend to remind me of the person that I was. The musicians do the same, though reinforcing the fact that everything is impermanent.
A couple of days ago I emptied the contents of a small black nylon messenger bag onto the floor. My sister, gone over three years now, had left it here. There wasn’t anything in there worth saving. A logbook from the limo company she worked for. Welfare forms. A tiny bottle of perfume. Letters from a guy in prison. Taken together, all of these things tell a story, but it’s not really one you want to hear.
When Here At Last Bee Gees…Live was released, the guys were working on the songs for Saturday Night Fever. When people were putting on the full sneer against disco Bee Gees (myself included), I had to point out that these hits were not their first. “Lonely Days,” “I’ve Got To Get A Message To You,” “To Love Somebody,” “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”…these were songs from a different era. In some ways, a different lifetime.
It was a strange week, with visitations from my little eight grade self, sad thoughts of my sister’s broken life, and pop music that spanned decades. It was unsettling in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. Sometimes I don’t know what’s worse, the physical or mental clutter.
Anyway, thanks Mr. Gibb.
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