Al Stewart – I’m Falling

I was 17 when I first visited London, and I distinctly recall buying Orange, the album which included this song, on that trip. It was in an HMV store among a plethora of other albums I wanted to buy, back when it was much more possible than today to just go to a record shop and find things that most people haven’t heard of. I also remember the innocent energy being there with friends, climbing lamp posts and finding delight in smelling black pepper.

And partly I associate that innocence also with this song, which just might be the most romantic one among Stewart’s repertoire. It is full of anticipation, and while it was probably written in an already established relationship, I also remember it as a symbol of early infatuation, that time when everything seems possible, love is an experience of being healed, a feeling of hope and fulfilment.

There is a clear sense of time and place, images that convey leisurely existence with nowhere to go, no obligations, only the sense of burgeoning affection. It is appealing because of the sense that very little is moving, yet emotionally there is a direction, falling in love, gradually moving toward understanding and intimacy. The world is moving in one direction, but it barely affects the lovers who are making tea and having biscuits, getting to know each other, somehow aware of jobs or people going to movies. It always struck me as a lovely image, and experiencing the feeling oneself for the first time is very memorable. It’s as if nothing truly exists except this bubble of tenderness.

Yet time keeps passing. It is Sunday afternoon turning into evening, and the lovers are aware of Monday morning, and the temptation to not go to work the next day. But perhaps it is this awareness of the limits of this freedom that gives it such a special hue, makes it possible to concentrate on the senses, being present just for each other. Awareness time can either make us live in the moment ever more fully, holding on to each sensation, or it can make us perpetually absent, always living for the future that never arrives, always planning ahead, thinking of what could be instead of what is.

The song is an exploration of the present within that context, the preciousness of each second spent together while it’s still possible, gentle hands, the gentleness of light inside while the night is falling. When it is possible to live like that, fully in the moment, sharing the sensations with someone who wants just as much to be there, to open up to that intimacy, there’s really nothing else to wish for. How nourishing the light can be, the touching fingers. The endless waves that keep crashing to the shore, the undulation of time itself. The afternoon tea, the conversations, the presence, the sleep, all rolling together to form this wonderful bubble.