As the 97’s celebrate the 15th anniversary of the release of Too Far To Care, I will take the opportunity to dig into my addled memory for some stories and insights. I’ll start with a track-by-track retrospective of the album’s thirteen songs. I will address them in reverse order, finishing appropriately with “Timebomb”.
Track 04 – “Salome”
Salome is one of my favorite characters from the bible. Have you heard the story wherein she demands the head of John The Baptist? That’s some juicy stuff. Oscar Wilde wrote a play about her and the great Tom Robbins wrote her into his novel Skinny Legs And All. In my song, I felt compelled to change a name to protect the, well, not-so-innocent. I used Salome in order to represent the ultimate castigating female.
The song’s story is loosely based on an experience I had the summer after I graduated from high school. I was dating a young woman of breathtaking beauty. The problem was her mercurial nature. Her treatment of me vacillated between love and punishment. The low point in our relationship came one evening when I arrived at the doorstep of her apartment for our scheduled date, knocked on the door and received no answer. I stood there for a minute, befuddled. In those pre-cellular days, a missed date was a much bigger deal. I wanted to see her. So much so that I retrieved an inflatable pool float, laid it on her doorstep and rested there, waiting for her imminent return. After a while, I started to doze off. I awoke to an odd sound. Laughter emanated from within her apartment. I shook the cobwebs out and wondered if I had dreamed it. Then it came again. Her laughter. Followed, inevitably, by that of someone else, someone male.
Now, I am not a violent man. I did a stint in my teenage years, in fact, volunteering at a free newspaper called The Dallas Peace Times. But at that moment, I was not myself. I saw black, as they say. I kicked in the front door of her apartment, bounded up the steps two at a time, and found her in her bedroom with another man. He stood up and made as if to protest. I pushed him up against the wall with my forearm at his throat. As she begged me to let him go, I felt my other hand clench into a fist as it raised itself up toward his terrified face. I saw something small in his eyes, something human and scared. My vision cleared just enough for me to realize that I could not be the kind of man who would strike out in anger. Not like this anyway. He wasn’t threatening anything but my perceived possession of this beautiful young woman. I turned on my heel and left.
A few years later, when I was writing this song, I placed myself back on that air mattress in front of her apartment. Now, every time I sing the line “the full moon might work magic girl/but I won’t disappear,” I am transported back to that moment – stretched out beneath the big, beautiful sky, waiting for my girl, unaware of the truth. She was capable of infidelity and I was capable of jealous rage. I learned something that night. It’s true that she “broke every part of me,” but that needed to happen. After I put myself back together, I realized that I am even stronger. You know what they say: What doesn’t kill you often makes for a pretty good song.
PS: Have your own memories of “Salome” or Too Far To Care in general? Tweet them at me.