People often ask me where I get inspirations for my songs, and the answer is: the damnedest places. I've mentioned before how a passing phrase at Joe Bethancourt's memorial concert inspired a song – "High Desert Wind" – that I'm still working on, and how the inspiration lasted for only one chorus and verse, so I asked for suggestions from the fans to finish it. I got some useful suggestions, a whole verse from Mark Horning and a lot of workable lines from other fans, but I still hadn't put together that last verse…
At least until this morning.
I was jerked awake by the sound of my cell-phone ringing, and swam up to consciousness as I reached for it, groggily aware that I'd nodded off in front of the computer again. I peered at the blank screen even as I yawned "Hello?"
"Leslie!" yelled a frantic male voice – somewhat familiar, a local fan, but I couldn't think of the attached name: Don? Dan? Dave? Daryl? "Make it stop! Send him back!"
"Whaaa…?" I managed. "Stop what?"
"That song! The one you wrote at Joe's memorial, the one about raising ghosts from songs and forces of nature. It worked! He's here! I can hear him outside!"
"What the hell?" I wakened faster. "Joe's there?" I couldn't understand the panic in the fan's voice. If my old friend's ghost should show up at my door, I'd welcome him in gladly. And I'd ask for his help in finishing that song.
And why would Joe's shade drop in on Don-Dave-Dan-whoever, rather than me? Ghosts appear unsummoned when (and where) they have unfinished business. I didn't know half of Joe's friends or family, or what he had going on with them, but what urgency would have sent him there first? …Did it have anything to do with the fan's terrified reaction?
The fan's voice rose another octave as he screeched: "He's at the door!"
I thought fast. "Send him to me," I snapped. "Toss him one of my tapes, or CDs, or books, and send him to me. I want to see him."
There was no answer but a single thump. I wondered if the frightened fan had thrown the phone at the ghost.
"What the hell?" I repeated, getting up from my chair…
…And then I wrenched awake – really awake – and found that I wasn't sitting in front of the computer at all. I was lying in bed among a tangle of coverlets and sleeping cats, and there was no phone in my hand. Now I remembered turning off the computer, setting the phone in the charger, and coming to bed the night before.
"What the hell?" I said, one more time. I almost never remember dreams when I wake up, and when I do, they're only vague fragments – nothing so clear or coherent as this. And I hadn't been thinking about Joe Bethancourt, or that song, before I went to sleep; I'd been working on a novel I'm doing with Rasty. So why that dream, and why now? I started to get up…
And felt an unmistakable sense of Joe Bethancourt's presence, as if he were standing in front of me. It was there for only an instant, but it was unmistakable. It was followed by a sense of urgency, which nudged me to get up and come into the livingroom. I yielded to it, definitely intrigued. So I plodded out to my desk…
…And saw that the computer was turned on.
Now I distinctly remember turning it off, as I usually do, before I went to bed. Turning it back on would have required pressing a recessed button, set into the vertical face of the power-box at an angle the cats couldn't reach, with more pressure than a cat could manage.
So how did the computer get turned on?
I could make a good guess. So I clicked up my Word document files, and started working – and, sure enough, I had an idea for that last verse.
As I said, I get inspiration for my songs from some genuinely weird places.
HIGH DESERT WIND
High desert wind won't blow the songs away.
They pace the streets of Tombstone with Doc Holliday.
Long as they blow the stronger souls can stay.
High desert wind, come blow again.
For half the year it's blowing dust and blazing sun-fire heat.
Then twice a year the solstice rains flood gully, field and street.
Earth and water, air and fire, as any wise soul could desire,
Shaped by ancient songs upon the wind –
Sung before, and they'll be sung again. (Cho.)
The sun burns down on shattered rock like fire from the sky.
The stars at night burn like a dream that no one can deny.
Light and darkness, stars and moon, petroglyph and ancient rune,
Secrets whispered softly on the wind,
Sung before, and coming around again. (Cho.) (M. Horning)
The wind that spreads the flowers' call, the pollen and the seeds,
Bears life throughout the desert lands that serves the spirits' needs.
Bannered clouds in glowing herds, paint the sky in ancient words
Of powers from the oldest days of men.
Welcome in, old friend. Come sing again. (Cho.)
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(