Why Did You Leave Me All Alone?

(From The Story Surrounding the Song series)

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The song was written in 1980. I have rerecorded this demo of it in 2015:

Below is a partial chapter taken from my memoir about life on the road as a female rock keyboardist, singer, songwriter.

WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME ALL ALONE?
(chapter excerpt from “What A Fool Believes” – a rock-n-roll memoir)

August 1980

I sat at the kitchen table under the yellow wall phone, waiting for Sandy to answer. The overhead fluorescent light spilled colorless halos over the tile floor, flickering morse code warnings.

“Sandy?”

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m leaving him, packing everything and getting the hell out of here.”

“Okay,” she said. I could tell she was trying to sit up in bed. “Are you sure? It’s one o’clock in the morning.”

“I can’t stay here another minute. He’s not home yet, and I don’t have a clue as to when he’s gonna show up.”

I had been thinking about it all evening, sitting there, taking bites from my macaroni and cheese dinner, being taunted by a mouse who peered at me from under the stove. As if I should get up and do something about it. I was fighting myself, turning it over and over in my head what had happened last weekend, when he left me waiting all night, waiting for him to come home from his gig.

It had been one of the cooler nights last week, providing relief against the daytime summer broil, which stubbornly refused to exit the wood-frame house we just moved into. I sat out on the front porch, with a view of the soap factory across the street. I smoked cigarettes to alleviate the scent of perfumey soap scum, which permeated my “off the road” existence.

The old Blue Max band was gone. Him and me were all that was left. He just started doing a single act because our duo tour had fried itself to a crisp. The last gig we played, in Cleveland, was at the Harley Hotel. During those six weeks I managed to skim enough money off the overhead to abet my own escape, because even then I was having really bad feelings.

Last Friday night out on the porch, smelling soap, had been the crowning glory. I ended up writing a really great song. Maybe I could get a record deal. That very thought was how I had kept myself from going crazy, pouring all my insanity into music and lyrics.

It wasn’t until 5 A.M. that I finally heard the prattle of his Volkswagen fade into the misty silence before it zoomed around the corner. What kind of a fool does he take me for, telling me he got drunk and passed out in his car? Yeah, passed out with his pants down. I pictured the whole thing with a vividness, like thirty-five millimeters feeding through a film projector. And now, one week later, the images were stuck in my head as this night began rolling into the wee hours.

When I hung up the phone with Sandy, I moved like a ricocheting pinball through the house, pulling the rest of my clothes from drawers and the laundry baskets, gathering my music books and songwriting journals, kitchenware, anything I considered to be mine. My body electric fueled a roaring bonfire of fury. I couldn’t get my own song out of my head. It had become the culmination of two years on the road working with him. I should’ve never broken the cardinal rule of touring rock-n-roll bands, especially when I was the only female musician.

The song was my refuge, my way out. It was worthy of itself, because it told the truth. It was a hard-driving Abba-like rock-n-roll freight train of anger. There’s a line in it that basically summed up my weak existence: I didn’t have the nerve for losing you.

It flowed out in one of those endless streams of creativity, amidst a freak out, sitting on that rickety porch with my guitar, pumping out lyrics: I waited all night, burned the porch light, but you kept me in the dark. I had kept myself in the dark for too long. I needed to shine a light on the situation. My light. My song. My coping mechanism.

I threw my bulging suitcase into the trunk of my 1970 Plymouth Valiant. I squeezed as much of my equipment into the back seat as I could, but I had to leave my Rhodes piano and speakers behind. He would have to ship them to me. I wasn’t going to wait up for him one more night. I was out of here. And I wasn’t coming back. Not this time. Not like the other times.

I was high. Not on weed, just on adrenalin. I was being lifted out of hell. I scooted into the driver’s seat, took one last dreary look at the pale green porch, and slammed the passenger door. I was tightly wedged between the door handle and the mountainous stack of books and clothing on the front seat.

“Fuck you,” I railed out loud, flipping the bird to the house, then at the soap factory. I lit a cigarette and drove away, leaving Ohio for good.

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