David F. Ross

Stories by David F. Ross

Worked a Miracle

Age withers the memory. A fond recollection of an event from thirty years ago will often drift from the factual to the apocryphal with the passing of time. But when musical highlights and favourite bands are the subject, I am firmly with Maxwell Scott. Let’s print the legend.

Sometime around the dawning of the 90s, I had occasion to be celebrating. A late-night party held in Kilmarnock’s unfeasibly named Barbadoes Road. Midnight has come and gone. The noise emanating from inside our flat is on the increase. We receive a visit. Signaled by the type of accusatory knock favoured by the police, I open the front door full of rehearsed apology. There are no uniforms, though. Unless the funky, retro gear from Flip constitutes one. Two dudes. One is holding a guitar. The other is familiar even through the drunken haze. I’m certain I dated his sister. They have come from across the street. The Stone Roses alerted them. ‘Can ye play that?’ says an enthusiastic pal from inside the flat. Not such a daft question. Many looking to sell or trade for a different type of gear have wandered the streets of this town carrying an instrument they can’t play. Clark Sorley, the brother of the girl I once knew talks of a band: Trashcan Sinatras. The coolest of all band names. I had heard of them but couldn’t recall from where or whom. The guitar is strummed. A few songs are sung, and despite my own incapacitation, I immediately know they are remarkable things. Fragile, beautiful, and timeless; as perfectly at home in the wee small hours of an Ayrshire morning, as you instinctively know they would be on a much larger stage supporting … oh, I don’t know … Radiohead, for example.

That night left a mark that endures to this day. The band’s debut album, Cake, is (still) astounding. But I’ve Seen Everything achieves that most elusive of things: a sophomore record that is even better, melodically richer, and lyrically mature than its triumphant predecessor. I’ve Seen Everything is as alluring as honey dripping from a golden scepter. In wearing out the grooves of these records, I fell in love with the legend of the Trashcans. I became invested in their complex, mysterious history. Their flawed trajectory was surely the basis of a great and heroic story.

With the acquired percipience of Clark Sorley, I appropriated details of Shabby Road, the band’s Kilmarnock studio. I bottled the essence of my favourite TCS song ‘Worked A Miracle’. And I stole the title of another for my own novel about a fictional Ayrshire band who – briefly – become as famous and universally lauded as the Trashcan Sinatras should have been. But then again, there has always been something miraculous about the Trashcans.

‘Worked a miracle, I’m unmistakable
Clueless and comfortable and pondering on my motives.’

Mis-remembered and significantly inflated it may have been, but I have convinced myself I first heard these lines in my tiny living room three decades ago. But even if I didn’t, this is the West (of Scotland), sir. When the legend becomes fact, eh?

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