Song Portrait 15: Full Bloom


Full Bloom is a love song to Memphis, youth, one of dearest friends, and maybe even Elvis himself.   The song was inspired by a road trip I took to New Orleans for New Year’s Eve of 2002.  I took this trip with my dear friend Ana.  We left from Chicago on an icy late December morning before the sun rose and hit I-57.  We did not stop until we came to a truck stop well into Missouri, the kind of place that sold trucker hats, hideously fabulous belt buckles, and those shirts with wolves howling at the moon.  We noticed that it was already considerably warmer that had been in Chicago.  After we got gas, we headed to our destination for the night – Memphis, Tennessee.  We made it there before sunset and were shocked to find that it felt like springtime.  We got some dinner without our coats on and found a hotel to check in to.  Then we set out for a night on the legendary Beale Street.  In my naivety I thought we were going to hear some authentic Delta Blues.  What we found was cover bands and Elvis impersonators.  That certainly didn’t stop us from having fun, although my definition of the word “fun” was complicated back then.  We stumbled back to the hotel room after a night of debauchery and I woke up with a fierce hangover that got worse as the day proceeded, but really, I was in a phase of my life where I just accepted that was being normal.  It was a sunny day and everything was in full bloom.

Ana and I had been on a road trip together before and had found that we were the ideal travel companions.  We were both vegetarians, we both liked to do strange quirky things, and we both tended to be introverted types.  We understood when we needed to split up and have alone time, something only two introverts would be able to understand.  Ana wanted to learn guitar and had decided a pawn shop in Memphis was THE place to buy a guitar.  We had both noticed that Memphis seemed to have an excessive amount of pawn shops.  I wanted to go to Graceland, something Ana had no interest in, so she dropped me off at Graceland and we spent the day apart.  I spent a lot of time waiting, and wishing I did not have a throbbing headache.  I saw the jungle room, the billiard room (the ceiling is amazing), the headstone, and lots of artifacts The King left behind.  I was glad I went.  Ana picked me up at our agreed upon time and place, and she took me to one of the pawn shops to inspect the guitar she had picked out.  It was a black Yamaha acoustic guitar.  It was a good guitar.  She bought it.

We rode off in to the night and headed to New Orleans.

Most of my songs have some sort of companion song, and the companion piece to Full Bloom is called Southern Belles.  This trip has a special place in my memory, because looking back, this trip presented me with many eerie premonitions of what to come…..but more about that in my next entry.



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