[The following fragment, written during the Spring of 2016, was meant to become an essay. It would’ve been called “Losing Music”—named for & intended to compliment John Cotter’s “Losing Music”—an essay about his experience with Ménière disease. John's “Losing Music” subsequently became Losing Music, his forthcoming memoir from Milkweed.]
John sent me a txt, asked, did I own Swordfishtrombones? He wanted me to listen to it, for him, because he couldn’t. I do own a copy, can’t say I’d ever listened to it, except I’ve heard songs from it—“Frank’s Wild Days”; once ago John put that cut on a mix for me. // I listened, as he asked. Took Swordfishtrombones to my little office where I never put on the lights except a cheap desk lamp and only early in the morning. I listened, head against the wall. // Between “16 Shells from A 30.6” and “Town With No Cheer” is the sound a rope makes when (blown by wind) it strikes an aluminum flag pole. A flag pole or—this is what I thought of—a rope against a yacht’s mast. A solitary yacht anchored off-shore. Docks. A ramshackle ice cream shack. Clang. A wind it won’t stop.
# # #
Just when John’s Ménière’s was about to get bad, but before it was the sure thing it is now, he told me the sound he heard in his head was like a bathroom hand-drier on full blast. He said it was so loud it amazed him no one else could hear it.
[Losing Music is due this April & can be pre-ordered here. There’s a short interview w/ John there; for more, Rick Koster wrote about John’s recent stay at the James Merrill House.]