It was already September 12th in New Zealand in the small hours of that morning. My friend Peter Tait was staying with us at our home on Wigan Street in central Wellington and was up late and caught the first broadcasts. I’d just crashed out and he woke me up – the first plane had smashed into the World Trade Centre and we watched it all unfold on TV.
The people jumping to their death. The second tower being hit. The terror and all the carnage. It was surreal.
It was more than surreal because at that very time my partner, Michelle, was flying from Auckland to Hawaii and then on to New York. Air New Zealand finally let me know the flight had been rerouted back to Auckland because the States was in lockdown.
Peter, Angus and I kept on watching the events play out on CNN. Angus was due to go to Panama the following year on an AFS exchange program and the world was shifting pretty fast.
When I finally managed to get a phone number to call Michelle – it was a motel in Auckland and a man’s voice answered and I knew. I went downstairs to my studio and wrote the riff and the verses to a new song –
Sally left when our souls were out of whack
She just went with my heart
She made it back to the town she used to attack
She just tore them apart
I was wrecked by the time she made the break
Couldn’t take it all in
I just blinked and the whole world missed a beat
Woke up to a new start
She was a very secretive woman and when she came back, after her postponed trip to the States, life resumed as normal until Ang went off to Panama – then she sat me down and told me she was leaving me.
We had been together 18 years and through all kinds of problems and it didn’t come as a surprise but it did come as a huge shock to my system. The writing had been on the wall in all those song lyrics I’d written about us over the years but I really believed we would grow old together – rocking chairs and all that.
She moved out and we had to sell Wigan Street and in my last few weeks there alone I became a drinker and wrote the chorus to the song and titled it.
And those promises you left were all that I could keep
Ringing in my head give me something I can break
Some might suggest that I’m not fully awake
But I’ve been drinking all day I could use a little space
I could use a little shuteye