One more day in New York and I can’t shake distraction. I’m into wandering these days, or at least since last weekend, hoping to walk off all these thoughts and just look closely and listen and maybe learn to love New York. Last Sunday, I walked three miles through Bushwick at six in the morning to get home, talking about the city almost the whole way. I walked with a friend who knows it better than I do, and he said that every corner blows his mind, and that while you could hear weird music in weird spaces every night of the week if so desired, sometimes it’s better to hide out and keep quiet. He said that he’s thought about moving to a cabin in Montana and never speaking to anyone ever again.
I’ve read that Kevin Morby wrote Harlem River as an homage to New York, and at first, I didn’t believe it. I heard traveling songs. A drifter’s groove. I heard harmonicas and melodies plucked on acoustic guitars, sounds that tell stories of long nights spent zooming across open land and heartbreak cast to the wind and pasts sent straight to hell. I heard the voice of someone who’s seen some shit and isn’t about to look back.
Then, maybe after listening for a third or fourth time, I started thinking of these songs as snapshots, not stories. Just flashes of narrative. All feeling. I started to hear the heart of Kevin Morby’s New York, and it sounded familiar.
Like a night when you’re on a roll, jazzed and almost out of control, and you know for sure you’d be damned if you believed in anything resembling god, and it all feels so wickedly good.
Like a night when it’s all too much and you’re alone and keyed up over nothing in particular, just lost and refusing to leave one spot, because you’re past hope and wishing for anything else.
Like a night when you’re running with maniacs and letting anything happen, and wherever you go feels like a dream.
Like all the times you’ve watched someone you love leave for good.
Like all the times you’ve missed someone so much that it hurt.
Kevin Morby’s got me wishing that I kept better track of my time in New York, wishing that I wrote something down about every day I’ve been here and took pictures of everyone I know. And he’s got me wondering how I’ll remember New York and how the city remembers everyone who leaves and how it’ll feel to watch the city recede when I leave for real, headed someplace down south or out west or elsewhere.
I’ll take a walk along the Harlem River before I go.