I became a fanboy. When I visited Matt at his family home in Minneapolis, I maneuvered my way into a Hang Ups rehearsal. We brought them down for a house concert. I did my best to keep up a penpal thing with principal songwriter Brian Tighe, whose day job was the deeply unrockist position of nanny.
It was Brian Tighe whom I saw sauntering through the festival crowd along the St. Louis riverfront that evening. I popped up on him. He remembered me. He remembered my gaudy enthusiasm for his music. He excused himself to get the new CD by his new splinter project. And that first Owls' record has been my constant companion, ever since.
The Owls played once in St. Louis, that I know of, at the now-defunct Frederick's Music Lounge. It was a small, homy room. It was hard to project starpower in that room. Maria May, something of the quartet's leader (or onstage focal point, at any rate) exuded star power. This is a woman who makes you want to run away and join the circus.
I visited with Brian, after their set, on the street outside Frederick's. Maria was smoking. It's often odd, for me, to see a pretty woman, or a singer, but especially a pretty woman singer, smoke. She had the nonchalance of the natural talent. We must have talked of children. I must have told her my daughter wanted to listen to her band and only her band, every day. I must have yearned for some kind of confluence, beyind that; surely I pushed for a songwriting partnership, through the mail. Surely we wrote songs together, started a band, hit the road. Surely I ran away and joined the circus.
It's not possible that I drove home alone, listening to Maria sing about there being only air where she used to care.