Some people have that kind of voice that just transports you; it seems not of this world. It should be coming from a prospector looking for gold in the 1800s along the California coastline; or a weary bartender in the Wild Wild West or an elderly mischievous man organizing late night break outs from the retirement home. His voice is like that. I hear it and I immediately see the little boy with a stubborn cowlick and a gap tooth dancing and goofing around for attention in a family that never had enough to offer him. I hear it and I see him in 40 years, balder and fatter, but of course still with a full beard causing trouble; singing too loud, dancing awkwardly and telling off-colour jokes to anyone that will listen.
Next to Preeeeet – ooh hooo
Next to Preeeet – ooh hooo
Next to Preeeet – ooh hooo
You will find me, you’ll find me next to Preet
When I first heard him singing it, I was waking up from a nap a bit nauseous because he had been cooking meat for a few hours and the house stunk like burning carcasses and grease. I could see him from the couch, dancing around the kitchen putting greasy hamburger patties in Ziploc bags and using my favourite dishtowel to mop up his meaty mess. He must have felt my eyes on him because he turned up the music and did his favourite dance move- pulling his shirt over his head and drumming his belly like a rythmically-challenged zombie. I couldn’t help but laugh. The nausea dissipated and I sat up and enjoyed the performance.
I love hearing my name and he knows it. He says it often in weird, try-hard accents and silly little raps mostly about how he’ll one day command a fleet or how he likes to wear cleats or how I should start eating meat. But his real talent is singing. He loves to sing girly songs and I love to listen. The robust black ladies with short hair are his favourite. His gravelly, deep voice cracks on every third note and he never really knows the lyrics but it’s my favourite too.
When the skies are grey and all the doors are closing
And the rising pressure makes it hard to breathe
When all I need’s a hand to stop the tears from falling
I will find him, I’ll find him next to me
The sun was shining in on his head that day so I could only see the outskirts of his body and the glare of the sunbeam on his face like a psychedelic tunnel fast forwarding to the future that nobody wants to think about.
We were old – although I still looked pretty much the same; living in a decrepit shack hidden amongst tall grass and overgrown orchards. I’d spend my days writing on an archaic laptop while he would tinker with his electronics: fixing old coffee machines and toaster ovens. We’d have busy, tough lives marred by successes, failures, heart ache and loss. But every time Emeli Sande‘s “Next to Me” would pop up on the iTunes, we’d smile, he’d sing that sweet refrain and we’d dance. We’d forget our failing bodies, our mountainous debt, our nagging regrets and we’d laugh. Transported to a time when our troubles were mostly about meaty smells and punctuality; when time wasted was time savoured and all we needed was our music.
When the end has come and buildings falling down fast
When we’ve spoilt the land and dried up all the sea
When everyone has lost their heads around us
You will find him, you’ll find him next to me.