When I was a freshman at UCSB 20 years ago I raided the local Morninglory Music for used CDs. Got R.E.M.’s first 3 albums cheap. Chronic Town, Murmur, & Reckoning have always been a subliminal soundtrack to one of the saddest stories I knew of that year.

My roommate Rob and I weren’t close but he was friends with several other guys in the dorm. They never spent much time with me. One guy was Keith. His dad owned a theater chain in OC. Another was Greg, whose older brother was also at UCSB.

They all went to the beach every day and partied together in Isla Vista when I’d take the train home to OC every other weekend. On one long weekend (or vacation, maybe it was Thanksgiving, I can’t remember), they and their girlfriends all went to Mexico.

Greg didn’t come back alive. They told me he went swimming, got pulled under by a surprise fall-weather riptide and drowned.

That was one of the stories that never made it into my bad self-published novel that was loosely based on that time of my life. It was too sad and I didn’t remember all the details anyway. But I think of it during “Harborcoat” or “7 Chinese Brothers.”

Anyway, statues shifted & ghosts escaped again when those two songs popped up in a playlist just now.