Letter to the Elkos: The Mystic Hope


Fall 1991

It was a rainy afternoon in November when Rodri and I left class with one idea in our heads: to disconnect. There were overly intense days at the Lycée Français de Barcelona, days when the pressure from the teachers became heavy. It was our final year, final exams loomed constantly like a threat, and escaping from such academic demands wasn't easy. Everyone talked about nothing but the future, careers, universities. I told Rodri I was heading to the storage room; I took refuge there even when there wasn't a rehearsal, sat at the drum set or any amplifier, and meditated. Just that. I was writing a song, a bit strange, I mentioned to my friend as he said: I'll come with you.

Upon arriving at the storage room, we heard the guitar, that sound with Flanger, Reverb, and Delay, characteristic of the band. "Hi, Bengi." He barely lifted his head. "Hey, how's it going?" And he resumed the arpeggio. Rodri sat down. I stood up, turned on the mic and the voice amp, searched in my backpack for the Lite notebook, tore out one of those French-style grid sheets, passed it to Rodri, and he read it with interest. It wasn't many verses, about ten, I hadn't finished the song, he seemed very focused when he started laughing with that contagious expression that always ended in a guffaw. He pointed to the verse: For once in my life, nothing's going to stop me. His eyes sparkled, his intelligence always found the comic side of things. Adolescence is an impossible age for anyone, a journey in the midst of the storm, but in my case, it was no longer a storm but a hurricane or tsunami, saying nothing was going to stop me was so absurd... he knew that not just nothing but everything would stop me, what was I thinking. He returned the lyrics and asked me to sing them. "Man, we've barely tried a couple of ideas. Go on, Jaime, I don't mind, I just need you to sing it".

When I crafted that melody over the guitar notes, something unique happened, I can't describe it better than the complicity of three lost hearts united by rock. Rodri nodded when I looked up at him. He said: "Exactly the kind of songs I like to listen to; hey, earlier was just a joke, the lyrics are cool, plus you know I'm an atheist, but I love it when believers are brave, I really liked it, man."

Bengi smiled in the background while putting his Stratocaster in its black case. Enough music, damn it, we were starving: it was time for a snack.

Summer 2023

I don't quite know how I woke up a couple of months ago with those guitar notes in my mind, those same notes that had been lost, that song that was never finished: two weeks after that afternoon in the storage room we succumbed to adult pressure, The Mystic Hope ceased to exist, leaving behind seven songs and those ten loose verses, we never recorded it or anything. I called the three producers at ELKO, told them I remembered the arpeggio, that I could reproduce it by singing in a WhatsApp audio. Bengi recognized it immediately: "Can't be, that was the exact guitar... but do you want me to add something else?" The lyrics are very brief, I didn't finish them at 17, remember... "Don't finish them now either, Jaime, I don't think life is about closing anything, leave the lyrics as they were, so the door remains open, not a circle that closes but a spiral that advances, stumbling maybe, but it moves forward despite everything."

We prepared thoroughly to recover those songs, more than three decades later. The last day of the recording sessions was the day I recorded those unfinished verses. No one can imagine what I felt. My voice was broken after so many days, and it shows. I tried to transform the singing into something deep. I tried to reach the highest notes with the same feeling I always have that I won't make it. And when I sang those verses: For once in my life, nothing's going to stop me, it happened again: I saw Rodri's open smile, Bengi concentrated in the background, relived my youthful naivety in writing those unattainable verses: life goes on, life continues and, darn, there's no way it gets any simpler, it remains as complex, surely my friends and I would laugh out loud again... Although nothing prevents dreaming.

How strong that in both circumstances, the afternoon in the storage room and the voice session three decades later, those were the last words I sang, as if time played with us to make us see that its passage is only linear for those who don't listen well to its cadence. Time is the most amazing thing one can meditate on.

Time comes and goes, returns and escapes, leaves and comes back home, just like the river and the waterfall, like the waves of the sea.

Here I go

Let us talk

Here I go

Let us run

Here I go

Let us climb up

For once in my life

Nothing's going to stop me

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