Blue Mountains, NSW, 2009

I could see the pain in her eyes as she stood there in silence; listening to the ballad with lyrics that exposed forgotten memories. She longed for those memories to emerge from the dark spaces of her heart, and to come into the light once again.

“This was our song,” she said as she smiled.

She began to tell the story of how they met when they were teenagers and fell deeply in love. It was the kind of love that consumes you and controls you but was ultimately not meant to last. Life’s many unexpected obstacles got in the way, and their paths drifted apart.

But it was a love that she was still yearning for over a decade later.

I was 15 years old, and my then-boyfriend and I were spending the day at his house. We filled our time listening to music, usually heavy metal and hardcore – we thought we were too cool to listen to anything else.

His mother heard our loud music, and she came to show us what she used to listen to when she was the same age. Her teenage years were in the 90s, prime time for grunge music and the four most influential grunge bands – Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

I had never listened to grunge music before this day, but once I did,  it opened my eyes to a new world of music, and I discovered a band that changed me.

When Black by Pearl Jam played, I entirely understood the story she was telling. It was the most beautifully raw song that I had ever heard, a love song that can evoke the most powerful emotions.

As the song played, it seemed as if it was a prophecy written about them – they were destined to be star crossed lovers. ‘I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life. I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky, but why why why can’t it be mine?’

Now every time that I play this song, I feel the pain of all the star-crossed lovers – including the mother of a former boyfriend –  listening along with me.


Stereo Story #554

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