Wrote this at the ‘bucks awhile back and don’t want to lose it, although it’s probably rubbish.
There’s a mash-up of Sgt Pepper by a fellow who goes by the name CCC online. It’s mostly brilliant, but my favourite is the ‘Within You Without You’ mash, which as has been mentioned here before, is that song along with Fire by Hendrix and another song. The first time I heard it, the damn thing tortured me: I knew the other song but couldn’t identify it. I knew I knew it well but it was missing just that little thing to let me think "Oh yes, of course." I was walking down Goodge Street, trying to filter through all the songs I knew. It was an organ and it was absolutely familiar so it had to be the Doors… I even managed to whittle down the album to The Doors, but my brain just wouldn’t make the final connection to the actual song. Then at 1:36, your man Jim suddenly arrived, bellowing. It was like returning home to find an old and dear friend waiting there.
So, I was talking about Cracked Pepper to a friend who also has the ‘record’ and knows about such things. He smiled and guessed what I was going to say: "So it was like him saying, ‘hey baby, it’s me: I’m back!’"
The answer is yes. I find it bitterly, terribly ironic that the mash-up is called ‘It’s Far Too Late’ because of course, it is. Don’t appease me by saying ‘oh, but he lived!’ or ‘well, you still have the albums!’ You cannot look an album in the eye. If it’s a set of MP3 files you can’t even hold it in your hands. You can’t hold a conversation with an album, although I’ve probably tried. You can’t laugh with an album. An album cannot grow up or develop, although it’s certainly true that one’s opinions and perspectives change.
An album can lull you to sleep but it can’t hug you. It can’t challenge your opinions of it and can’t tell you when you’re wrong. An album can make you cry but it can’t dry your tears. It can shatter you but it can’t put you back together again. An album can never be anything more than what it was when it was made. An album cannot create new albums (don’t talk to me about reissues and outtakes). An album is a fixed point in time, a single definite in a world that flows, moves and changes.
An album cannot be your friends, although it might sometimes feel like one. You can love it but it cannot love you back. You cannot engage with a record as an equal.
Yes, he lived for a little while but he also died, which doesn’t negate the having lived but irrevocably changes it and puts it constantly out of reach. All I have and all I ever will have are fragments of moments where something feels within reach, moments where I could almost think he (and the others) is calling and he is back.
The word ‘almost’ is doing all the work there, because it’s too late, too late, too late, too late… too late.