Radio Quarantine – Mining the 70s w/Van Morrison: TB Sheets

“And I can almost smell your TB sheets, on your sick bed.”

It really doesn’t get a whole lot darker than that. It’s hard for me to say which takes it to darker corners, John Lee Hooker’s original, or Van the Man. Van’s is a bit more uptempo but something about it is creepier. It gives me the willies.

I had a dream once years ago that I was standing next to the sick bed of a relative I never actually met. There was no discernible face. Just a palpable grayness and dread. A hand reached out from the bed. She (she?) wanted me to hold her hand but I as just a small child and afraid to go nearer. There was a dry, sick smell like something had already died but a long, long time ago. It was just enough to tickle the gag reflex. You know that smell, like in an old house?

When I stepped closer to the bed and the rough, dry hand touched mine, the gray went to black and the bed opened up into an endless black expanse, sucking in the whole room, and then there was just an endless nothing. Just blackness. Nothingness. I remember the nothingness that went on forever.

I’m not sure exactly why this song reminded me of the dream. I’d not thought about TB Sheets for years but it was the opening song last night in the soundtrack for Bringing Out the Dead. Perfect really as the hollow tone of the guitar and organ turns the daylight to night. It’s that vibe. It rang some bells though and that’s what I remember most about the movie. That and a few lines about ghosts and how the ghosts are no longer waiting for him to fall asleep. That’s New York City though, man. It’s not an old city relatively speaking but there have been bodies on top of bodies for 400 plus years and so many people have lived and died in such a short time that there’s a bottleneck at the exit door. The spirits are stacked up waiting to get out. You’re going to see some ghosts here. You will, and that I can guarantee. Not all of them will be yours but you’ll see them anyway.

Anyway, the dream. What do I think it was about? I think it was the fear of death, actually. Not wanting to stand too close to someone on their way out for fear they’d take you with them. And don’t get me wrong! It’s not being dead that frightened me. It’s not the idea of being dead. It’s that transition between now and then, and frankly I’d prefer that ‘then’ came much later.

And sickness. Sickness scares me. This is probably a bad time to be listening to TB Sheets what with all this bullshit going around. Not a pretty song, but still a perfect song in many respects. Sometimes art ain’t pretty.

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