There is so much you have already heard, so let me tell you something else.
I can still picture you with your long hair, which means I have been a fan for a long time. It started when your hair was still growing, actually. So you see, it’s been a long time.
I get the impression that it was yesterday, when I was intimidated by you. It’s funny to remember, because I don’t feel that way anymore.
I am listening to your voice. You are singing while I am trying to find the right words.
I can still picture you with your long hair; the posters in my teenage bedroom.
I have walked on your beach, I have walked in your street. I have walked a little further, then turned around, and finally, I never came back. I have lived in the Dublin you probably haven’t been for an eternity. I have lived in your Dublin which was no longer for me.
We have never met.
Long hair in the wind, blowing in the face, it’s annoying. It’s beautiful too.
To tell you the truth, I don’t think I have moved from those years. You cannot be 60, it’s impossible. I can still picture you with your long hair, as it if was yesterday.
But actually, I have moved on, of course. The streets of Dublin I have lived are the ones fans do not go. However, me too, I am a fan. I got lost to your songs and to the sound of your voice.
Then the song ended. I went home, when I had one.
You started with nothing. Bad mouths would say that you wouldn’t last. Contracts were not offered and doors got slammed to your face. You too, you slept here and there. You too.
My bus would go all the way to your old street, the one with the seven towers. You went on to be taller than them. You became as beautiful as those walls that carried your name. Your name, an identical pronunciation in every language. What an idea to be called after a shop for deaf people. It’s not even a name I would have thought of giving to a guy with long hair. Still, that shop, I have walked by it, you have walked by it. We have never met.
So you are 60. It doesn’t seem like it. Well actually, it does. Your voice has changed, but in a good way. You sing better. And I am telling you this as a fan I had forgotten. Your voice is like a good wine. We lift our heads like we raise our glass. It’s your words we sing, reminding ourselves to never let go.
Words, words for you, words for us, words for them. There are lyrics for the songs that were never recorded, there are lyrics that got lost, then found. There are songs in which you have said it all, and there are songs in which you haven’t said enough.
Moreover, there are the songs for the ones who no longer have a voice or a choice. This is something you have understood a long time ago. You sing the right words, the sweet words, but you sing the truth.
The truth is also that all your fans follow you since you have had your long hair, if not, way, way before. They know the truth from your words. They know your street and your beach where they walk a little further to turn around, in case they can hear your voice.
I look at you with my arms crossed, full of admiration. I am the fan of the shadows, the fan of the back row. I call you my brother. And still, we have never met. I remember the posters with the long hair when I would have been so intimidated by you and yet I would tell myself that if I could take the first train, I would go find you, and ask you to take me on tour with you. Many stories have been lived, yet remain untold from that time. Some are in your songs, some are to laugh to death; some are swollen tears.
Some fans say you have saved their lives. They are correct, it’s true. Do you realize for one second the impact you have on people whom you don’t know that claim you have saved their lives? Maybe it’s a lot to take, maybe it’s a lot of hair to lose.
I don’t like to say that you have saved my life, I am not worthy of saying that. Because I am a fan whom I had forgotten, in the city where I almost lost it, my life. But you have saved my life, you have. You have helped me, you have told me that I was not invisible and to not let the light go out.
But the light got stronger to the words I am writing, today. I had forgotten to be a fan, then finally, I turned around to hear your voice, telling me that I had to keep on going, that hair grows longer every year, whatever happens.
One day, we will meet, on a pathway to a beach, a street, not necessarily yours, but probably after turning around, you’ll see. Because I am a pilgrim on my way.
The sun always shines on May 10th, and on this day we raise our glass, we sing your words, as we remind ourselves to never let go.
Happy birthday, brother.