Living in Shit with The Copyrights (Song Stories #1)

If you’re anything like me (and for your sake, I hope the similarities start and end right here) certain songs trigger memories for you. On our drive down from Jacksonville, late Thursday night, I had the iPod on shuffle and a few songs came up that I hadn’t heard in a while but gave me an idea that I thought might make for a cool series of entries on the website. Here’s the first in my (remarkably cleverly titled) series of Song Stories.

Song: “Prove Me Wrong” by The Copyrights
Time: June 2012
Place: Miami, FL


It backed up. From wall to wall, the floor in our little shitbox of an apartment was now seeped in toilet water. And yeah – when I say “toilet water,” I’m talking about a lot more than water. We had no cleaning supplies and no car to get to the store. Normally, I’m happy to walk but this was Miami in June and I was in the midst of heroin withdrawals. I felt about as awful as a human being can feel. Besides, we didn’t have any money to buy cleaning supplies anyway. And you can fucking bet that – whatever money we were going to scam up – it sure as shit wasn’t going to pay for paper towels and Lysol. I did the same thing any “sensible” person would do in my position: I took the comforter off the bed and threw it on the floor. It stayed there like that until we left town a few weeks later.

I hated being in that apartment. Actually, to call it an “apartment” paints too grand of a picture. It was a fucking room. And it felt more like a coffin. I felt trapped all day and night around the clock. I wished I were dead. But I wasn’t going to walk out the door for anything. Anything but drugs.

My memory’s a little hazy but if things were as I remember, I’m too ashamed to spill all of the details. You don’t really need to know the source of the money anyway. Suffice to say it was a process that involved more than one felony and ended with a Moneygram or Western Union transfer. I braved the outside world to go pick up the cash, so I could hop a train to Overtown and finally get some heroin. Not enough to overdose and kill myself (what a sweet dream that would have been; I fantasized about it constantly) but enough to make the hurt go away for a few hours. That was enough. I calculated the exact minute that I could expect the money to be ready and left so as to arrive just in time.

But it wasn’t ready. I waited. And waited. And waited. And it still hadn’t come in. Because the people that I was counting on to send it were also drug addicts and – you know – they’ve got their own schedules.

So I sat on the sidewalk outside of the CVS, calling and texting, trying to find out when the money would become available. It started to rain. And I just sat there, clinging to my hope that they would eventually come through. I shook and shivered and sweated. I prayed not to be recognized – after all, this was the same CVS where I’d steal $80 boxes of allergy medication which I’d then return to Publix or Walgreens for store credit. (On the rare occasions that I ate, this was one of the ways that I got food). I’d have walked down the street and looked suspicious elsewhere but I just didn’t have it in me to care that much. It all hurt just a little more than I could stand. Sitting there in the rain… I don’t know… maybe I was paralyzed or maybe I was punishing myself. Maybe I enjoyed my squalor and tragedy on some sick, stupid, self-destructive level.

In any case, that was my evening. And as I sat on that stupid fucking sidewalk in the rain, I listened to music on her phone. The battery was low and I shouldn’t have done anything to speed that process up but I couldn’t help it. Those songs, my songs, were all that kept me from laying down in traffic some days. There was one that stuck out and that I’ll forever associate with that night.

I told you there was a time back then when I still believed
You asked “believed in what” and I said “in anything”
Well the world’s still spinning, and we’re still grinning with cold drinks in our hands
But you’re grading on a curve while we’re sitting on a curb in a cold and callous land

And you tell me there was a time I’d laugh at this dramatic trash
That was coming out of my mouth after too much sour mash
I say the world only spins when I shut my eyes and it goes too fucking fast
But then I’m free to dream about the frequent smiles of a not-too-distant past

You will always run into creeps like me
Who love to swim and drown in negativity
But we want you to strongly disagree
Ignore all the surface signs and prove me wrong

Reminds me when I first saw the Pacific in a sunset glow
Or when we came through the Holland Tunnel for our first New York Show
But if the winners like these are fewer and further between now
The losers like us are too stubborn to ever forget how
to compare and contrast to the best of days
in competitive, unfair, and bullshit ways
instead of just putting our arms around someone we love
you gotta let it go

Please make sure to remind us
Our best days are not behind us


“Prove Me Wrong” by The Copyrights comes from the compilation LP, “The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore.” You can buy the LP from Interpunk. And (I was under the impression that it was only released on vinyl but) it looks like you can also get it on CD from It’s Alive.

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