Jeanne Recommends: “Mesa, Arizona” by Jeffrey Foucault

Tucson in July is not for the weak. Summers here necessitate holing up in reverse — rise as early as possible for exercise, errands, and anything else requiring a trip out of doors, and then retreat until after dark into air conditioning or to a covered patio with misters and fans. (If the latter, make sure there is an outstanding selection of beer to complement the ambiance.) It’s ass-backwards hibernation at its finest.

I was sitting in my living room on just such a July afternoon not too many years ago, just north of 40 years old and beating my now-standard retreat from the aforementioned desert sun. I’d started playing Jeffrey Foucault’s third solo album, Ghost Repeater (already a decade old at the time), earlier in the hour as I did laundry, reconciled my checking account, and tidied up my apartment.

As I paused on my sofa, the penultimate track, “Mesa, Arizona,” started playing, and sent a revelation from my bluetooth speaker straight into my heart. People across generations remember where they were when certain momentous events of national or international significance took place; I will always remember exactly where I was and what song was playing the last time I realized I was in love.

And the sun gone down
In the pale thin pink
There’s no one to talk to
All I can think
Is your eyes are full of train smoke
And your mouth tastes like rain
And I know when I know nothing
I will always know your name

“Mesa, Arizona,” a love song that came about after Foucault got lost in the concrete wilds of the greater Phoenix area, was the truth serum that catapulted me out of deep denial that summer day. I still self-medicate with this tune when I need to remember what it was like to feel such unequivocal certainty, or just to recall the one who has my heart.

You’re the one I want to talk to
The one I know to call
The one who’s going to catch me
When my pride leads to a fall
You’re the sky all full of starlings
And an ax blade shining in the sun
You’re the angel touched a coal
Against my lips
You’re my only one

(Song recommendation by Jeanne Sharp)

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