The Seldom-Seen Kid

(Polydor; 2008)

By Danny Roca | 27 March 2008

Dearest Elbow,

It’s about 4am on a Sunday morning. I’m sitting in the kitchen, I’ve just come home from clubbing and I found you asleep on the couch with the TV on. I’ve tried to wake you but you’ve had far too much to drink. I’ve been crying in the bathroom for twenty minutes; I guess the decision has been made for me. How did it come to this?

Do you remember when we met? It seems like a lifetime ago. 2001. I wasn’t in a good way then. And then you arrived, dressed in “Powder Blue,” and you changed things for me. Sure, you sounded a lot like my ex, Doves, and, if I’m being honest, a bit like my mother’s lover Talk Talk, but I guess that’s why you felt so safe, so secure. Sure, you weren’t the most upbeat guy but, hey, I wasn’t exactly in the best of moods and I could think of nothing better than lying in bed all afternoon, curling up with you as you crooned to me in my sleep. The world seemed magical and it wasn’t just me who felt it. I introduced you to my friends and they loved you too. Sure, it wasn’t the feeling I had but they had you round for dinner all the time in 2001. Janice told me she liked you because you weren’t too showy or brash; you knew how to fit in to make everyone feel calm. You had that effect on people. You remember Janice? She stopped talking to me after I told her that her boyfriend the Stereophonics was nothing but a showboating wanker with all the emotional depth of a car mechanic. I mean, yeah, he took her out to “Have A Nice Day,” but you told me I made you feel like a “Newborn.” And you really meant it.

Not that it was all smooth going. You started sleeping around. I heard you and the London Community Gospel Choir. I mean fuck that, how many were there at Glastonbury? A Cast Of Thousands (2004). How was that supposed to make me feel? You used to be so unsure of yourself, so reserved; now you’re parading about the place like a soccer fan, singing chants as if you were on the terraces. Still, I couldn’t stay angry for too long. Remember that weekend in the “Fugitive Motel?” It was like you had never changed, why I still find myself coming back to the photos we took of that weekend. Let’s face it, though: the rot had already set in.

I had moved on. I was going out dancing. I had new friends and you didn’t fit in. You could never hold your own at the dancehall with M.I.A.; you couldn’t come raving with LCD Soundsystem; you couldn’t even come and play Buckaroo and watch the cop shows with the Go! Team, could you? No, you were much happier sitting at home in your shitty apartment in cold, rainy Manchester pretending you were doing something great with your life. I couldn’t help but chuckle when you came back from your stay up North. It was embarrassing. Trying to dance around with your younger counterparts. Who did you think you were shaking your beer-gut about the place. “Forget Yourself?” What was that?

That was three years ago. We’ve barely spoken since. I never take you with me when I go away. Now you want to make an effort? It’s just too late. Yeah, there are moments when I can see a heart beating within “The Bones Of You.” You have that same firm hand that knows how to work me, but you don’t have the staying power you used to. Wow, back in the day you could hold out for ages—7 minutes would seem like a lifetime, you always keeping me on the brink, but nowadays you just get me going and I can feel stirrings but you fall flat after 3 minutes.

And I don’t understand your mood changes. One day you’re trying to tempt me back by dressing up like a cowboy whilst claiming “Grounds For Divorce.” You have to accept that that’s all it is—you’re just playing dress up. Or when you took tango lessons, sure I came down to “The Fix” club with you. You were dressed up to the nines like you were expecting “An Audience With The Pope” but you didn’t look like you knew what you were doing. You looked so flabby and tired. At least when Nick Cave took me tangoing it felt dangerous.

I’ve just popped back into the den and can see you sprawled out murmuring “Weather To Fly” to yourself in your sleep. I could stay there watching you forever. You seem so fragile, so vulnerable just like I remember you—it brought a tear to me eye. I thought about the morning before I went out. You had a glint in your eye, shining like a “Mirrorball” and it felt I was falling in love all over again. If only you didn’t spoil these tender moments that seem to make my heart want to burst out my chest by goofing around all the time.

Anyway, the sun is rising and soon you’ll be stirring so I should go. I’ll send for my things. I’m sorry Elbow. I think I’ll always love you, but I think, at least for now, I need to be away from you. I hope you can understand.

Love you,