It sounds like Sunday. In the great tradition of Tom Rush’s “Rockport Sunday” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Duke’s on Sunday.”
Sunday… A funny day. A workday if you’re in Israel, I was reminded of that watching “Srugim,” but in America it’s a day of rest. Not for retail and service workers, we now expect everything to be open 24/7, but most people are not going to their jobs, but they’re anticipating working the following day. You wake up still relaxing, you read the newspaper, have an activity and as it reaches the six o’clock hour your spirits start to sink. It was especially bad when I was still in school. Actually, in college Sunday was a study day, you messed around Friday, licked your wounds and gave it your all on Saturday and then back to the books…if you weren’t studying on Sunday at Middlebury you were an outcast, someone noted by others, a renegade. But in grade school, high school, you had to finish your homework, go home relatively early, the following morning, Monday, it was back to the grind.
I’ve been to Salford. It’s right next to Manchester. I went there with Tony Wilson for a gig. He was getting paid a few quid to give insight to the government. No preparation, off the top of his head, his whole life was preparation.
I bought “Shoot Out the Lights.” I own more Richard Thompson albums than I can count, or find. I even own Fairport Convention’s “Full House,” I saw that tour at the Fillmore East. And I respect Richard’s playing, but I rarely play him.
So my college buddy sent me a playlist of the days of the week. It was long and it contained acts that I was stunned he knew, how did he find them, and a bunch of tracks I’d never heard, like “Salford Sunday.”
I got it immediately. I was entranced. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for days. Not that it’s new, it came out in 2013, and by time I saw Richard in 2014 it was out of the set list. But it’s new to me.
Now “Salford Sunday” is never gonna be on the hit parade. At best it can be a staple on AAA stations on Sunday. How are people supposed to find it? How are people supposed to find anything these days?
Salford Sunday, skies are weeping
Dawn is creeping, through the blind
There are two kinds of people, night and day, literally. The day people boast about how early they get out of bed. Even 4 a.m., their goal is to get ahead of everything. Night people are already discouraged, they know they’re already behind, they’re more singular, not part of a crowd, they like their aloneness, they come alive when it’s dark outside, they don’t get tired, they get inspired, they don’t have to turn in early, they’re game for anything, they’re up to the challenge.
But the morning is painful. The light especially. It wakes you up. It reminds you of how you don’t fit in. You want the world to leave you alone, you’ll be ready when…you’re ready.
Salford Sunday and I’m walking
Though the rain is pelting down
That’s one of the features of England, the rain, the Beatles even sang about it, and it’s depressing if you cannot leave, but if you’re mobile it’s rewarding, it’s inspiring. Sure, your outdoor plans might have been canceled, but you can rationalize staying home, it’s a mental day off, you can read, play board games. And if you walk outside what you notice most is the quiet, other than the sound of the raindrops themselves.
There’s a train goes back to London
I hate to leave this ugly town
And it kinda is. And the truth is Los Angeles is a pretty ugly town too, but it’s saved by the sun, and the hills.
And the song isn’t solely about Salford and the rain, it’s primarily about a girl and how the protagonist, probably Richard, misplayed his hand, but you don’t need to know any of that, you just have to listen to the music, it conveys the mind-set, the mood.
I can listen to stuff like this all day. Because it puts me into night. Even if I’m smiling and driving with the sunroof open. Because it envelops me in a cocoon, where I can be who I want to be, without interference, without expectations. This is not hit music, made for masses to bump asses to, to show their moves on TikTok, “Salford Sunday” is personal.
Most of the time we’re alone. Wasn’t that Jerry Maguire’s greatest fear? You’d be surprised how many people are just like Jerry, to be left alone with their own thoughts is too scary. But you’ve got no choice, even if it’s just when you put your head on your pillow, before you fall asleep. And music used to evoke this mental space, ride shotgun along with you, like “Salford Sunday.”