Sound and distance in symbiosis is the perfect expression of human longing. The 'voices from a farther room'. The call to prayer. The midnight train. All these images of activity beyond our reach. A sonic representation of life moving on without us. That sense of longing and distance is a critical part of the stories I've sought out for ARRVLS.
When I heard the song A Train That Runs At Midnight many years ago, something clicked. You know how a song can be the missing piece for a moment in your life? That it all seems to make sense when you hear it? Well that song spoke to the loneliness and longing of that particular moment, almost 10 years ago. The song was written by a friend of a friend whose music I'd just discovered, and as I was browsing his catalogue of uploaded songs, I found the composition and was stunned. I haven't heard it in as many years and still I can remember virtually all the words. The song tells the story of the singer's move from San Francisco to North Carolina to pursue music, only to discover shortly after arriving that he'd made a terrible mistake.
There really is a train that runs at midnight
Turns out that all those sad old songs are right
And there's beauty in the hills of Carolina
Or is it just that I get loneliest at night?
And I'd like to tell my friends in California
Just as soon as I get money for a phone
That there really is a train that runs at midnight
And it really is the saddest sound I know.
And when my wife and I moved to New York last winter, this song reappeared in my memory. The noise of construction from my window, the planes descending over Williamsburg toward JFK, those were my midnight trains. To see a place as beautiful precisely because it is alienating. ARRVLS came from what I felt must have been a similar place. Which is why I decided to name the live show A Train That Runs At Midnight.
I combed the internet for versions of the song, but to no avail. At last, I tracked down the songwriter recently, and proposed the idea to him, and shared my feelings about the song. Turns out, the song has long been retired, but will be revived soon. I will share a version with you all when I receive it.
So more on A Train That Runs At Midnight:
The live performative component of the show is something I'm very much looking forward to. The show will feature ARRVL stories, but not in the traditional story show format.
In three acts, you will be transported into live conversations between an interviewee and their interviewer as they share stories of migration, transformation, and change. Think of it like "My Dinner With Andre", but live.The theme of the first show is, naturally, "Beginnings".
Each program will have a guest musician, composer, producer, or sound designer tracking the interviews in real time..a sort of live radio show. The first installment of "A Train That Runs At Midnight" will be, I'm very proud to announce, at Mellow Pages Library in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Thursday, January 15th, 2015. So New York folks be sure to put that on your calendars.
Future shows will be planned for Manhattan, SF, LA, and elsewhere in the months following. For more info join the mailing list (button on the right sidebar). If you'd like to participate and have questions on the show, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org