Maybe if I'd slept with more song-smiths, I would have fulfilled the longtime, narcissist desire to have my own song on the radio. My own anthem in the vein of The Kaiser Chief's "Ruby," where the chorus would instead be a very urgent, "Andrea!Andrea!Andreaaaaa!" (When the song first hit the air, I emailed my friend, Hannah, who'd just gotten a new niece named Ruby. And I said, oh, Ruby's so lucky-- it's strong and clear and passionate name placement.) Childhood friend, Rhonda, once danced to "Help me, Rhonda!" for me in her bedroom, and though I wasn't yet saying "fuck" at the time, my feelings were somewhere along the lines of, "Fuck, I wish I could choreograph to myself!" In college my boyfriend Ryan actually did write a song for me and he did use my name, but while the gesture was touching, the droopy folk chorus: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Andreaaaaaaaaaaaaaa/ This is the song that I wrooooooooooooooote/ you" wasn't getting either of us anywhere near the Top 40. I used to have a tape of the song somewhere, but it got lost in the shuffle of the past decade, and now there's no longer even that record.
I'm well aware Andrea isn't great for rhyming, and it's also a reasonable effort to tuck into a verse. Too many syllables, too many vowels, too many neurotic- Jewish-editor-of-the-Beverly- Hills-High-student-paper associations, even. So maybe I'd given up on the dream a little until I was running at the gym three weeks ago, listening to satellite radio on my headphones, and the DJ announced he was about to play a song called "Seagull." My ears perked. And the wheels between them quickly spun. My brother had been "Seigel" all throughout his years playing football, into his years at the fraternity, no sign of stopping as he navigated adult friendships; why not me? Every form, every file, every prescription, every attendance sheet, every visit to the gynecologist my entire life, last name first, so why not flip the importance of the identifications in my head? Here was a song on the radio in which my (last) name was being crooned by a certain Joe Bonamassa, and could I not make something of this long awaited musical shout-out?
So I put in the effort. I said to myself, "If this is my song, then it needs to speak so clearly to me that I can drag a personal truth out of every line." While on the treadmill, losing myself in the music and the pounding rhythm of my Nike Frees, I began the process of interpretation:
Seagull, you fly 'cross the horizon/
Well, sure I do. Not only did I fly to Baltimore this month, but I
also metaphorically fly 'cross the horizon, if by horizon we can
substitute that line of emotional equilibrium which I completely just
cruise right over.
Into the misty morning sun/
I don't live all that far from the ocean. It can be kind of misty sometimes- kind of- in the morning, even when there is sun. Things were even mistier when I lived in Venice, and maybe this is one of those songs that romantically addresses me a confluence of past and present, an always "was" and an always "will be."
Nobody asked you where you are going/
Pretty true. I don't have a boss, I no longer live with my parents, and I'm not accountable to a husband or kids. You could go with either "fiercely independent" or "dedicated loner" and still be spot on, Joe-Joe.
Nobody knows where you're from.
In the literal sense, perhaps a stretch. I think there's an interview somewhere on the internet explaining that I was born near Disneyland. But how often have I been told by people that they can't figure out where I'm coming from? So often! Almost every single time I've ever been in a relationship or group situation, in fact.
There is a man asking a question/
Who is it? My dad who regularly wants to know, "What's new?" My student in my UCLA class who recently wanted to know, "What's the difference between regular 3rd person perspective and a tight 3rd?" Ryan Seacrest on the TV wondering, "Who will go home?" Or is it, in a very meta turn, Joe himself (see next line)?
Is it really the end of the world? /
A timely question, Joe, since with all the recent L.A.-area
murder-suicides, accidental driveby deaths, and Santa Monica residents
getting clobbered, lately I've been talking a lot about how yeah, I do
sort of think things are coming to an apocalyptic head around here. And then, of course, there's the problem of the economy.
Seagull, you must have known for a long time/
The shapes of things to come
If I'm an asshole for saying so, fine, but I was in the gifted
program as a child. And I've often said I'm really ninety-two inside
and should probably be getting ready to die. And just yesterday I was
writing back and forth with Geoff about how I feel my adult
consciousness locked in somewhere around twelve when I was studying for
my Bat Mitzvah underneath my family's front fern, wanting desperately
to commune with god, but discovering the power of bullshit, of rhetoric
(my Torah portion) instead. And since then, the shapes of things
haven't shifted so much. I saw them awhile ago. I did.
No you fly through the sky/
We're back to the flying in the sky again? Covered. Done and done.
Never asking why/
I don't think Joe means to say that I'm easygoing, which I'm not, or
that I go through life without questioning what's going on around me or
why I make certain choices. What I think he's doing here is singing
obliquely about my hardcore existentialist leanings, which make it
nearly impossible for me to attach a fixed meaning to any symbol,
system, behavior, way of life. So I don't necessarily ask, "Why?" in
terms of questions like, "Why are we here on earth?" or "Why do most
marriages fail?" I'm strictly a case-by-case basis, and for me,
meaning takes root in the process of interpretation and doesn't exist
otherwise; thus, questioning an earlier origin point is just playing a
And you fly all around/
I do run a lot of errands.
Until somebody shoots you down.
Possibly a reference to the murder/suicide-robot I will eventually build.
Gonna fly away tomorrow, fly away/
While not actually going on a plane tomorrow-tomorrow, I have been applying to professorial jobs in other states, so I'm taking this as an instance of poetic license, "tomorrow" being a stand-in for a more generalized notion of futureness.
Leave it to my sorrow, hey yeah/
Here I have to stop and ask, "Leave what, Joe?" I get on my writing students all the time about these vague "its" that don't clearly hook back up to a referent.
Gonna fly away/
As has been established, yes.
Leave it to my sorrow, hey yeah.
Seriously, dude leave what to your sorrow? If this "it" isn't specified as any fixed crisis, then do you just mean "everything?" Leave the flying, the horizon, the misty morning sun, the man asking questions, and the even more ominous man who's apparently going to shoot me from the clouds? (It just occurs me to me that I haven't heard much about hunters going for seagulls. Not really common marks, right?)
Or do you, Joe, just mean that when I fly away, I am going to leave my sheer absence to your sorrow? That all you will have left of me are the hazy memories, the whispers of who I am? Because if so, that's very sweet! How nice to be missed like that, especially on the radio.