Jules Holland’s ‘Later’ was on in the background on the television in late May 2015; he introduced a singer I hadn’t heard of before who grabbed my attention with her haunting, slightly gravelly voice with wonderful control. It was Melody Gardot singing ‘It Gonna Come’, the opening track from her fourth album.
I looked her up on-line whilst Seasick Steve, Muse and one or two others played. She had an interesting story and a reason for wearing the sunglasses indoors. She had suffered serious head and spinal injuries after being hit by a car that ignored a red traffic light whilst cycling in Philadelphia in 2003. After a stay in hospital of over a year she was left hypersensitive to sound and light. She had used music to help re-establish the neural pathways between her brain’s two cortices.
Within a couple of minutes of her finishing her second song – ‘The Preacherman’ – I had pre-ordered the album; it is wonderful, the songs played on ‘Later’ are perhaps the best and it is an album I have listened to a lot since I bought it – often as an accompaniment to reading.
Her story resonated with me – there were a lot of parallels with my own accident, a driver failing to stop at a red light and the resultant near-death experience. I downloaded her first album, ‘Worrisome Heart’, too, which is much more pared back and has echoes of Billy Holiday , but as I listened to the lyrics of ‘Some Lessons’ the first time I heard something that felt as though she could have been writing about me which left me in floods of tears
Well I’m buckled up inside
It’s a miracle that I’m alive …
To think that I could have fallen
A centimeter to the left
Would not be here to see the sunset
Or have myself a time
They are feelings I have most days – whether it be out running feeling the rain or the sun on my skin, looking out from The Point on the edge of Blackheath, standing on top of a Norwegian mountain, going to the theatre, reading, or just writing a blog post. It sums up the last eight months of my life and probably many years to come – falling slight differently or the same fall with fewer clothes on a warmer day and the crack in my neck vertebra could have been worse and I could have damaged my spinal cord or not survived. It is important though to celebrate the ‘sunsets’, the ‘times’ and the being ‘alive’ rather than dwell too long on what could have happened.