thatguyaz's current selection is:
Five Fathoms
by Everything But the Girl
#aprilmusicchallenge Day 25: A song that reminds you of your wild days
It's great that this day coincides with selection #800 to GJB. I love meaningful milestones. Caution, long writeup below!

So in the US almost everyone who wants to practice law has to get a law degree from one of the accredited law schools. However, just graduating is not enough in most jurisdictions. In most places, you then need to sit for a licensing exam run by that jurisdiction. In October of 1999, I took the one for Arizona. I spent much of that summer studying for the exam, which really is high-stakes - if you don't pass, your career options in that state are limited. You need to pass.

However, I didn't put my nose anywhere near the grindstone and took a lackadaisical approach to studying. I did plenty of work, but many others did more - and worse, what I did wound up not having much effect on my attempt to pass. Anyway, one day I took a study break to watch the noontime television news, and they had a silly story in the last segment about an online contest to win a trip to London as a part of a promotional giveaway connected to the release of the film "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." In 1999, there weren't many online contests, and I still had a modem I used to dial in to the internet. So I went over to my idle computer, logged on to the internet, and went to the website for the contest. It was very simple - register for the contest by providing your information, push a button, some slot-machine-like virtual wheels spun, and if they lined up, you won a prize. You could enter up to three times. I hit the button, and the wheels lined up on my first try. I'd won the prize - one of a hundred trips to London on Virgin Atlantic. In my case, it was a round trip flight from Los Angeles to London, with LA being the closest city to Phoenix served by Virgin Atlantic.

Well I knew enough about the Internet to surmise that the contest had been hacked or was broken, so I got on the phone (because that's what we did in those days) and called a few friends so they could enter too. Slowly over the next few days my friends checked back that they didn't win. I never received any confirmation from Virgin Atlantic or the Austin Powers folks, so I kinda forgot about it.

Then around September, I get a big envelope in the mail congratulating me on winning. It had a pair of Austin Powers novelty glasses (which I still have somewhere) and some paperwork to fill out and mail back with payment (by check, lol) for the taxes. I had to pick travel dates, and while I could pick dates up to three weeks apart, I was broke and knew no one in London - I limited myself to a week there figuring I couldn't spend any more on hotels. I also had the ability to buy a discounted ticket for a buddy, and I got my friend in San Francisco to go with me (he wound up flying separately out of SFO). I paid $76 in taxes on my round trip LAX to Heathrow. I paid $79 for the round trip on Southwest from Phoenix to LAX to get me there and back :D I blindly decided to go for the week around my 26th birthday.

I then went back to "studying." Well, here's the thing - I failed the test. I had to retake it, and the re-test was just three weeks after my birthday in February! I felt totally conflicted going, kicking myself for not picking a week after the re-test in case I failed. But I crushed it studying before I left, and redoubled my efforts after getting back. While I was there, it was full on party.

I've never been a big world traveler. The 747 and A340 on that trip remain the largest planes I've flown on, and that remains my only trip to Europe. My San Francisco buddy had some friends who lived in the Diamond District of London, and we spent a couple of days and nights just wandering that part of the city, hanging out in squares, window shopping, and hitting pubs. We made sure we were at a pub which I think was called the King of Diamonds every afternoon when my buddy's friends got off work. It wasn't much of a place, but our friends went there religiously (their office was next door), loved to buy us drinks and told fabulous stories... and then they went out every night. We went along and partied our butts off. I'm pretty sure I had a hotel room every night, but I don't know that I used it. Good times were had, mistakes were made, those responsible have been sacked, good show, it's all classified and if I told you more I'd have to kill you. Needless to say, they were wild days.

Happy ending - I went back and passed the Febuary exam, and was allowed to practice law.

Anyway, flying Virgin Atlantic was quite an experience. Richard Branson really had something going then (not sure about now, since this was nearly 20 years ago). The crews were atrractive and cheeky, the giveaway items were quirky and fun, and the cabins were stylishly decorated and lit. I remember landing and standing for the first time in a while, preparing to de-plane. It's one of the most vivid memories I have - hearing this song at that time.

I'm pretty sure I didn't own "Temperamental" at this point, and in the days before Shazam, Discogs, and Google-based lyric searches you had to guess or remember later what you heard, but I am certain this song and it's distinctive synth rush were playing over the plane's audio system. The song is about London - alas the official video is blocked from GJB but it's here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gkmv53bBvP0 - and I'm sure I have an intense connection to it because I heard it as I stepped off a plane on my first visit to London. I adore the couplet: "The people fill the city/because the city fills the people, oh yeah." It's true of all vibrant metro areas - there's just something amazing about being there.

One fun detail: the song is called "Five Fathoms" - fathom being a nautical term referring to the depth of the water, about six feet. There are several lyrics about "a river in my head" - and the depth of the Thames River by the Tower of London at high tide is approximately 30 feet, or five fathoms.

Anyway, I still think of that moment - preparing to deplane and contemplating the fun times to come - whenever I hear this song. "I'm not immune, I love this tune."

I walk the city late at night.
Does everyone here do the same?
I want to be the things I see,
Give every face and place my name.
I cross the street, take a right,
Pick up the pace, pass a fight.
Did I grow up just to stay home?
I'm not immune - I love this tune.

I want to love more.
I just want to love more.

I drag the city late at night.
It's in my mouth, it's in my hair.
The people fill the city because
The city fills the people, oh yeah.
I cross the street, avoid the freeze -
A city's warmer by a couple degrees.
The smell of food. The smell of rain.
I'm not immune - I love this tune.

I want to love more.
There's a river in my head.
I just want to love more.
There's a river in my head.

The only way out is down.
The only way up is down.
The day roll by like thunder
Like a storm that's never breaking,
All my time and space compressed
In the low pressure of the proceedings,
And they beat against the sides of my life,
And the roads all lead behind me,
So I wrap the wheel around me and I go out.
There's a river in my head.
I'll take you home and make it easy.
Love more.
1999 - Virgin - United Kingdom - From the album "Temperamental"
Posted: 25th April 2019
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