T H E Y S A Y
W A T C H I T
N E W Y O R K H O W L
R O X A N N E
C L O U D L I G H T
it started with a suitcase left on a sidewalk...
If you die in New York City and no one remains to collect your things, the cleaners cart the contents of your apartment down to the street for the garbage collectors. There, the objects that made up your life are left to the whims of New York City dwellers before they are carted off to a dump somewhere on Staten Island. You know the scene when you see it: a chest of drawers ravished by curious passersby. File cabinets rifled through without the least shame. Who knows? There could be something in there. This time it was a suitcase that sang the siren’s song.
It was cloth-covered – simple, clean. Inside, amongst books and broken records, David found the diary. Her name, inscribed on the front cover, was Francis, spelled the masculine way. Her first entry was dated June 12, 1975, and began, So I made it to New York.
The entries continued daily, then monthly, then every year or two, according to intermittent attention. Then, in 1982 after a flurry of successive entries, the words came to an abrupt end. Her last words: I hope he gets it.
In these pages – in glimpses of scenes, starts and stops of poetry, dreams half-recounted – was the story of a young woman from Portland, Oregon, new to the city, who was looking, forever watching. Struck by the contrast of her prescient internal life to her harsh reality, David (London Plane’s principal songwriter) began to dream about Francis himself. She seemed to have only just left the room he entered, to be seated in the train he just missed, to be walking in the street ahead, just visible and then gone. Lyrics and music soon appeared to accompany the stories in his mind. After this obsession yielded half a dozen songs, David went looking for his own Francis – someone to become the ghost he’d imagined into being.
Cici always had a thing for ghosts. Once introduced to the diary, the Francis on the page and the Francis of the mind made perfect sense to her. Of course she wanted to play the part. Of course she wanted to sing the songs. And ever since, Cici has been David’s Francis.
The songs themselves reverberate the themes of Francis’ diary - isolation and emanation, fear and bravery, regret and redemption. Taking this cue, London Plane (named for New York City’s ghostly, resilient hybrid street tree) forms music which might at one moment seem shatterable and the next electrified, possessed. London Plane’s songs don’t ignore the danger on the other side of the door, but they also don’t let it stop their ascension into reverie.
S H O W S
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