There, then.
Here, now.

How a song becomes “our song” is a phenomenon that doesn’t make complete sense. Some sense, but no formula or criteria exists to define a song as “our song”. For my wife and I, “our song” occurred when we were teenagers. Aside from their hit Seeing Red, Unwritten Law never frequented dances or store background noise but, as a punk loving 18-year-old, Elva snuck its way onto the CD player one day as we hung out, slightly bored living in a small town.

The afternoon sun shone through the windows, slicing through oak trees as we made a snack in the kitchen. Rarely a moment passed in my teens when music didn’t play in the background and, since Seein’ Red blared everywhere, Unwritten Law’s album hung in the background like a punk breeze. My girlfriend and I never left each other’s side and did everything together. When you are in the first few months of your relationship, it usually happens that way. For some it may wane, but, for us, life is better together.

So, there we stood and the title track, Elva came on with that triplet, shuffle-esque beat Wade Youman laid down followed by the soft guitar and iconic lick. It’s a rhythm one could argue is difficult to not slow dance to and, in the sun and in love, I lifted her hand into mine and we danced together. A moment of spontaneity and whim overcame us and her head rested on my shoulder. The scent of her shampoo filled me as I sang the lyrics to her.

 So just hang on cause I
I won’t be long and I
Just sing that song to me
Cos I’m in love with you in love with me.

Months later, we danced together in front of a crowd of family and friends. She in her wedding dress and me in mine. A kilt, actually, but try explaining the difference to kids your whole life. The moment lives in my mind as one of the greatest memories of my life. A song of our lives which has travelled as a soundtrack through our apartments, our first home, the birth of our daughters, through the deaths of friends and family, and countless avenues, moments and memories.

Throughout our marriage, there are probably hundreds of songs, more mature songs, which could act as a substitute. Move beyond the reckless punk sounds into Stevie Wonder or James Taylor. John Legend? I don’t know. What does society or Rolling Stone say? Something considered more classy. But I could never let go of Elva. And I’m fairly certain my wife agrees and looks forward to dancing somewhere else, many years from now, to our song.

Stereo Story # 625

For more slow dancing in the kitchen stories, see Under The Milky Way by Smokie Dawson.


N.T. McQueen is the author of The Blood of Bones, Between Lions and Lambs, The Disciple, and the children's book, Moses Jones and the Case of the Missing Sneaker. He received his MA in Creative Writing from CSU-Sacramento and his work has appeared in issues of Fiction Southeast, The Kentucky Review, The Grief Diaries, Gold Man Review, Camas: Nature of the West, Transition Magazine, West Trade Review, The Sunlight Press, and others.