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The Music Next Door

Dear Tali, Mark, Louis and Marty,

I first saw you about 8 years ago at a Candle Concert, at the Metro. This was in the early Darren Hanlon days, when he was touring his divine first EP, the one with Falling Aeroplanes. I knew of you, always meant to get around to seeing you, but the best laid plans – well, you know. Then the stars finally aligned and I found myself in the same space as you. You weren’t like the other bands I’d seen, yet you were. You were a delicious mix of all the bands of my youth. The Housemartins, my most beloved Smiths, Orange Juice, Billy Bragg, Aztec Camera, The Psychelic Furs, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.

Your gorgeous little pop songs very quickly wove their way into my heart. Candle Records became the centre of my universe.  I didn’t think a band could hold my interest, but with every album I adored you more. You had lilting melodies and a way with words that I just could not resist.  I’m not easily won, I avoid charming men like the plague, but with you guys it was love at first sight. I quite happily could have popped you in my handbag,  taken you home, and kept you there forever. Strictly above the covers, you understand.

It was at a gig of yours that I began to take My Best Friend seriously. He’d irritated the bejesus out of me until that night at the Annandale. Something happened, and I started to look at him with different eyes. You became the soundtrack to my falling in love with him. And he with me.  There was the Sunday morning he had to fly to Melbourne, and we faced being apart for ten whole days. Ten whole days. It was a stinking hot December day, I was sticky from the heat as I walked down George Street, and all I had in my head was “you know I’m thinking of you, in the bookstore, in the laundromat.” I sent my copy of A Good Kind of Nervous express post to him. He ran out and bought his own copy.

On our six month anniversay I wrote him a fairy tale. It was the story of him and I. I called it “Great Lengths” because it took until October to win him over. He took me to Katoomba to see you for my birthday. He insisted I get a poster signed by you – I’m too shy and awkward for that sort of thing – but it’s now framed by my bed with your heartfelt thanks scribbled across it.  We stood in someone’s backyard in Newtown watching you play under the clothes line. You guys have been the soundtrack to some of the best years of my life.  And as life would have it, the worst. His absence is the reason I haven’t seen much of you lately. “Today will end and your heart will mend, if by degrees” has been scratched onto a piece of paper, and has been my mantra the last 12 months.

And your email of last week is only beginning to sink in. Say it isn’t so. You’re just late with your April Fool’s joke, yes? I’m wandering the city wondering why a month of mourning has not been declared. Where are the women weeping in the streets? Where are the poets clutching crumpled pages to their chest?

The Lucksmiths are splitting up. And my heart is broken.

“It might have been the music from next door,

reminding me I should have missed you more,

a song I’ve heard a hundred times before.”

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