The story you are waiting for
Despair has helped you build everything we know, everything we have, everything we are capable of destroying. I don’t even remember how it started. I remember your look and the way you are unable to utter a single word. Neither the right one, nor the wrong one. We have all been waiting for the wrong ones. And it became clear to me what they were talking about when they weren’t talking about love.
Hey, did you know that Badlands is the first feature film Terrence Malick directed? And that it was Martin Sheen’s favorite and best film in which he starred? Whenever I want to talk about it I remind myself of his words.
[Martin’s voice in my head confesses: Terry called me one night and said, “I want you to act in the movie.” The next morning I had to wake up early to get to work, driving in a small Mazda on the Pacific Coast freeway. Dylan’s album I loved was playing, the song Desolation Row was on, and the sun was rising, and I realized I was going to play the role of a lifetime. I have been acting professionally since I was eighteen. At the time, I was thirty-one, had four kids, I wrestled, I worked a lot on television – too bad and stupid things, just to make ends meet – and I had no luck with feature films, and here I am now in front of the role of my life. And I was overwhelmed with helplessness, I stopped by the road and began to choke on tears.]
And did you know that Tom Barman had Martin Sheen in that movie in mind, when he wrote one of the best ballads ever? He wrote it for dEUS when they were in their disbanding phase. Do you remember the emperors of Antwerp?
Elvis in your garage
Scene one: You are a child from a hill, who places its outlawmess in the sideburns and leaves without fear everything that was ever loved. You are an aged child who still dreams of a stream and a log cabin, similar to the one owned by Sam Blackthorn Shepard. The stories that we forget and the scars that make us not breathe, in the end come down to the same thing.
Martin Sheen nearly turned down the role in the film. At the same time, he almost didn’t even get it, because they thought he was too old to be the wannabe James Dean, the character Malick was looking for. The plot is inspired by what really happened in the late fifties in Nebraska, when nineteen-year-old Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, decided in their campaign to kill those they resented or disliked. She was fourteen at the time. Starkweather was a Korean War veteran and somewhat reminiscent of James Dean. Inspired by the same event, Tarantino wrote a story that he later divided into two screenplays: for the films True Romance and Natural Born Killers. Bruce Springsteen sang the Nebraska song from Starkweather’s perspective, from the shoes of a serial killer who will be sentenced to an electric chair in his twenties and executed.
To you, just as to Starkweather, James Dean is everything in the world. Right behind Elvis. Scene two: Elvis in his garage watches Rebel Withou a Cause God knows how many times in a row, memorizing every dialogue in the film. Scene three: You will write me songs in which we do not die. There’s no way you’ll ever forget me.
Everything that was ever loved
If this isn’t the story you’re waiting for, then it’s not the one you want either. How close is a thought to you that is not evenmine? How much do we forget, and we told ourselves we never would. Sure of it, we repeated: This scent, your scent, I will never forget! How ridiculous and forgotten all this is now. I am obsessed with fading emotions, the same ones that made us ready for anything.
How about you just let me hear a song in which Sheen says goodbye? You must have the record! I know how much you love them and how much it means to you that others see them. And I’m going to tell you about how Terence Malick turned each of his films into a masterpiece… how he began writing Badlands at the age of 27, while traveling around America (I’m trying to remember anything of value at my age of 27, and it’snot working for me). How he also wrote the first draft of the screenplay for the movie Dirty Harry. Irving Kershner was to direct it, and Marlon Brando to act. How, after so many decades, he is still a mystery man.
You turn everything so easily into a song. For you, everything is light notes and hard distortions. Now you will talk about the song again. And worst of all, by talking so you will say the wrong thing we have been waiting for. There’s no too late for such things. There is no right time either. Fall asleep on the road, die for all the songs never written. Only in them do we exist fearlessly, as before the beginning. We last in them.