Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Take The Long Way Home"
The official anthem of the '94 earthquake.
That's the thing about natural disasters, they have little impact unless you're a victim, and I was one.
I'm a late night person, I'm going to bed a bit earlier these days, but left to my own devices my tuck-in time is around 4 AM, which is what it was back on that day in January 1994.
I'd turned out the light a bit after 4:15 AM. And in that mental twilight wherein you're trying to fall asleep but in reality are still awake, my house started to shake. Not uncommon, earthquakes happen in California on a regular basis. But then it was like a 747 was flying ten feet above, the whole house started to shake, to the point where if it was a movie you wouldn't believe it. And I jumped up, didn't even bother to stand in a doorway, and promptly ran outside where the world was twisting and turning and transformers were bursting on telephone poles and I truly wondered if this was the end.
But it wasn't.
Half a minute later, normalization occurred, and my neighbors streamed out of their houses, in shock, to the point where not a single person commented that I was wearing no clothes.
And it was like a bad post-apocalypse movie thereafter. Almost nobody driving. Gas leaks everywhere. Grocery stores closed because all the contents had been shaken and stirred and were now on the floor and it was positively eerie. We were here. But regular life had ceased.
And stayed screwed up for days.
The 10 freeway had collapsed. Going nowhere was easy. And the song that kept playing in my head was Supertramp's "Take The Long Way Home."
The band had cut one of the definitive albums of the seventies, "Bloody Well Right" got some airplay, but "Crime Of The Century" was still a cult item, the band were far from stars. And "Crisis? What Crisis?" did nothing to rectify this. Not quite as good, the band still rested on the laurels of "Crime Of The Century."
Then came "Even In The Quietest Moments," which was even worse, exquisitely recorded as per usual, but possessed something resembling a hit single, "Give A Little Bit."
But then in 1979, the band followed that up with an album so big, it positively dominated the airwaves into the next decade.
"Could we have kippers for breakfast?"
"Take a look at my girlfriend, she's the only one I've got."
Boomers know these lyrics as well as those from "Hotel California."
And diehard fans were thrilled the band had finally broken through, the album was number one forever, but the sound was somehow lighter and not quite as meaningful. But there was one track I could never tire of, "Take The Long Way Home."
It starts oh-so-quietly. You hear that piano chord and then...you eagerly anticipate the harmonica blowing and the ethereal number that is positively Supertramp.
"So you think you're a Romeo
Playing a part in a picture show"
It feels so good! Rodger Hodgson's vocal, the piano, the changes, the dynamics. You're on a roller coaster ride that's not scary but fulfilling.
"Lonely days turn to lonely nights
You take a trip to the city lights"
It's got an upbeat feel, but like Supertramp's classic tracks, "Take The Long Way Home" has got a deeper, darker meaning.
"Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe
Oh, it has to be
For you to grow boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been
If you'd had more time"
In 1994 my life was truly a catastrophe. I'd lost everything, I was flat broke, and the earthquake pushed me over the edge.
But right now, life is great. Because just like Supertramp, I didn't do what was expedient, I stuck to my vision, I waited for the world to catch up with me...
I took the long way home.