Only one song caught fire in the thousand and one that Valentine and his roommate Gerry cranked out during the four years they worked together. Their partnership spanned the epoch between music recording paradigms — the expensive and the DYI. Initially, they worked like dogs to cover the costs of a few hours in a professional studio. Valentine set up a shoeshine operation inside the windy tunnel leading to the number four train. In winter, he never saw the light of day, but the crisp five-dollar bills stacked up at a reliable pace and so he felt it was worthwhile. Despite his seeming indifference to business success, Valentine soon attracted a steady stream of loyal customers. Gerry, on the other hand, worked the lobster shift at an after hours bar and slept half the day away. During the time their fame crested, the two friends made the most of it, booking tours that took them across the country. Valentine soon tired of singing lyrics that once perfectly captured his freshman heartbreak. The girl who inspired the song, now a junior banker, was clueless about her fleeting brush with fame. Gerry loved the all night ravings, the easy sprints from one altered mind state to the next and the talk, talk, talk. Valentine remembers little from that period save for gargling with warm salt water that did little to restore his shot vocal chords. Now, back in that windy, dark tunnel, joking with the regulars, Valentine, if he’s feeling particularly generous, or down in the mouth, takes out the frayed picture of him and Gerry on stage in front of an adoring crowd singing their hearts out. You could say it was a perfect moment, save for the bitter taste of salt that invariably floods his mouth like bile at the end of a hangover.
July 25, 2014
by Lee Eiferman