October 2005, 851 Carroll St., Brooklyn, NY
Elliott Smith is said to have frequented O’Connor’s when he lived in Brooklyn, but Farrell’s, in Windsor Terrace, is the only bar where you can actually write a song. There is no jukebox competing with what you’re hearing in your head, and the televisions are on mute. If you get there early enough, the only sound is rustling newspapers. A Bud—the sole beer on tap—being placed on the bar doesn’t even go thunk, or clink: It is set before you silently because the bartender doesn’t talk much and because it came in a shock-absorbing thirty-two-ounce Styrofoam cup that they call a container. It’s like your beer is wearing socks. Early on, it is quiet enough to hear the head fizzing. It is quiet enough to write the chorus. As the night progresses the room fills with locals, many of them firemen and cops who really don’t give a damn what you do, and it gets louder and louder but for me there’s always this blissful moment when I realize it isn’t music and it isn’t Tim McCarver: It’s just people talking. Or yelling. A crescendo of collective conversation, of simultaneous stories and jokes and bullshit from the altar of the bar and the tables scattered around it, tables with little doorbells mounted beside them because in the old days the ladies weren’t supposed to come to the bar when they wanted a refill; they had to sit to the side and wait to be served. I never made it to last call at Farrell’s. For all I know, it never closes. I would just get a lid for my container and walk out the door and down the hill and eventually home, and I felt wonderful.
And I felt wonderful, just like summer would if a season could feel. I felt so good, like all was understood. Lightning-struck and thunder-shook. I felt wonderful.
So I told myself I’d always remember exactly the way it felt, so that every time we were together, I could think back and tell myself that I felt wonderful, just like summer would if a season could feel. I felt so good, like all was understood. Lightning-struck and thunder-shook. I felt wonderful.
Sometimes you can’t rely on rules you invented. Other times you find they work too well. But you find no matter what you intended, there are lessons learned and the world still turns and it wouldn’t be living if it didn’t sometimes hurt. And I felt wonderful, just like summer would if a season could feel. I felt so good, like all was understood. Lightning-struck and thunder-shook. I felt wonderful.