Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ popped into my head today, and with it came memories of a girl I was dating back in ’76 when it was released. I went out with her for a few months, and to this day cannot recall why I ended a relationship with a girl who was not only very pretty, but had a Mini. Duh.
But there was something else between us other than physical attraction and liking each other. That thing was the ghost of our mutual friend, who she had gone out with a few years earlier.
His name was Michael, and one night back when they were a couple we were waiting for the bus home when he changed his mind and decided to stay around in case she turned up.
I don’t know if she ever turned up.
He never turned up in our lives again.
The next morning I went to pick up the newspapers for the round I did and his parents, who ran the shop, told me he’d been killed in a car crash the previous night.
I cried all the way through the delivery that morning.
I can still see him...leaning out of his bedroom window with The Commodores’ ‘Machine Gun’ blasting out. He was new in the village but anyone who had ‘Machine Gun’ was alright with me. We became good friends.
The girl didn’t go to school for weeks. I walked out of lessons...too broken up to pay attention. One other boy from the same car had his arm in plaster for weeks. He was a constant, terrible reminder of what had happened...the lucky one who had escaped.
No-one talked about it much, as I recall. What could we say? We were lads, unaccustomed to death, to grieving, and ill-equipped to convey whatever we felt.
I would have been in the same car if I’d stayed with him.
If he hadn’t been mad about the girl he might be alive today.
So it goes...the nature of chance, which may allow one person to live whilst taking another away for good...
Well, later I went out with her. We had some good times. And the one piece of music I’ll always associate with her is ‘Young Hearts Run Free’.
We were young, but I don’t think we were ever really free of our mutual friend...