I learned via Twitter this week that “Rattlesnakes” the classic debut album by Lloyd Cole and The Commotions was released 37 years ago this week. It prompted me to listen again and as my head continues to clear I was transported back to the time I was 18 / 19 and a sliding doors moment. I tweeted this…
So I listened to Rattlesnakes today and it is perfect. I wish it’s intelligence, beauty and references had set me on a different path in 1984. I listened but I didn’t really hear when I was 18. As a 56 year old I can fully appreciate it’s brilliance
Apologies to those who aren’t fond of personal posts but I find sharing these memories very therapeutic….
I’ve shared the story before of the cool kid at college who stole my first girlfriend after selling me his collection of pre “Party Fears Two” Associates singles. We were part of a group with similar tastes and all got on. The “girlfriend” had a friend. I’ll call her Louise as that was her name. We got on really well mostly through a shared love of Echo and The Bunnymen. She encouraged me to my first gig to see them at The Shakespeare theatre, Stratford Upon Avon. We saw them twice more in London. I made ham fisted attempts to pull two of the other girls in the group but never Louise. She was just a mate with a shock of black hair and a permanent smile. Then on my 18th birthday we saw The Bunnymen together at The Albert Hall. She went to the front to stare at Pete de Freitas while I danced self consciously like a Mac clone next to our seats. After the gig we walked to the station laughing and sharing stories of the gig. At one point I got in a shopping trolley and she pushed me along until I tipped out on a kerb. Then… Well sorry to disappoint the romantics among you we got our train and went home..
Not long after a old school friend knocked on my door. Hadn’t seen him for years but he invited me on a night out with his mates. Using the confidence Louise had given me I went, got hammered for the first time, loved how it made me feel and did it again and again until I didn’t see the old gang again as my new “mates” with whom I had nothing in common except drink and football took over.
A couple of years later I was in a pub with these mates , drinking Becks and generally being an arse when Louise walked in. Her shock of black hair remained as had that smile and she’d grown up. Wow! I saw her and looked away. My Mac hair was now a serious blond mullet. My checked shirt and raincoat was now a garish yellow jumper tucked in my jeans. She came over “What’s happened to you?” she said. I mumbled something and one of my mates made some sexist, disparaging comment in my “defence”. Louise shook her head and walked away. I’ve never seen her again and not really thought about her until this week listening to Rattlesnakes.
We’d planned to see Lloyd Cole but never did. We listened to the album often. Only now did I really hear it and recognise Louise and those friends in the lyrics. If I’d done things differently could I have been living four flights up on Charlotte Street watching “On The Waterfront”, reading Simone de Beauvoir and driving in Louise’s 2CV. She would definitely have driven a 2CV. Would I have become better read, more informed, more interested in the arts and more open minded? Just a better human being? Instead I became one of the rattlesnakes girl’s need a gun for and ended up in the wrong life I’ve written of previously.
I have no idea how her life turned out. I really don’t want or need to know but there’s no doubt in my mind that had I taken a different path in 1984 and not lived a drunken hedonistic life in my twenties that my life would have turned out differently. Not for the last time, I’d taken the wrong path…
And as for this song….