Isn’t that a lovely line? It’s from the very nice, very talented musician Ron Pope’s song, Beautiful & Lost. Anyway, I was thinking about that song tonight while I read Nineteen Fifty-Five, a short story by Alice Walker (if she sounds familiar, she wrote The Color Purple).
The MC is this African American singer who gets approached by an agent and sells one of her songs to him and his little white musician boy. If I’ve got it right, the boy is basically Elvis Presley, only in the story his name is Traynor. With Traynor singing, the song becomes this huge hit, he becomes hugely famous, but he also develops this relationship with Gracie Mae; she sort of mothers him, I guess, and he’s always trying to please her.
He’s so lost, this Traynor. He doesn’t understand the song he’s singing, the song that’s making him so famous, and his lack of understanding is eating up at him. The fact that his fans don’t know, can’t recognize what he feels is a lack of authenticity on his part, is eating up at him. He buys Gracie Mae and her man all these nice things to try to compensate. The whole story reads so matter-of-fact (it’s sort of SoC in Gracie’s voice) but heartbreaking. He’s so beautiful and lost, this sad musician boy.
He’s always searching. He dies searching, sad, “always asleep” and never really living.
It’s a beautiful story.