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Exotic animal paradise

So I have this recurring dream. Well, not really a dream as such. More a footnote on the thesis on life; a ‘mental meandering’ where my mind flows to a secret place which only I and Paul McCartney can access. In it I have a magic power, a gift if you like, whereby I’m able to steal — word for word, note for note, melody for glorious melody — every great song and poem ever written, then claim them as my own. Yes, yes … so Buckley’s ‘So Real’, for instance, is immediately deleted from his Grace album and replaced by some asinine b-side the moment I pick up my acoustic guitar and start strumming those sweet introductory chords. Likewise, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ is like putty in my hands as I weave a lyrical spell over my first-time audience. Oh, the potential for misuse. [sniff] ‘This is just a little something I’ve been working on’ I’d say as I softly picked the delicate intro to Stairway to Heaven. And then, as the night grows heavy and the chest is warmed by a shot of straight whiskey, I’d whisper gently in the ear of my female companion: ‘Where true love burns, desire is love’s pure flame; It is the reflex of our earthly frame, that takes its meaning from the nobler part, and but translates the language of the heart’ [Coleridge]. At which point she would swoon and smile conspiratorially, touched no doubt by the sincerity of the moment. Only problem is that I tend to wake up then, confronted by the grim reality of a tuneless repertoire, and knowing full well that somewhere out there, in the deep dark depths of middle-America, Ray LaMontagne is doing it for real. Damn! [illustration by Tiffany Bozic]