Crash Site: Extraordinary

September 27th, 2001

This chap Benjamin Wagner has been sending me demos of his music for about five or six months now. And a week or so ago he finally sent me an album that he is self-releasing and that he is selling on his website and at gigs.

It’s an album that has been a year in the making and the title of the album, which was decided upon months and months ago, and the cover of the album, which was printed months and months ago, well the title of the album is “Crash Site.” The cover of the album is of a plane, it’s like a purple cover with a black sillouette of a plane and there’s a song on the album called “Crash Site.” I think it’s an extraordinary song.

So I called him up today. I had his cell phone and it turned out he was in St. Louis at a cousin’s wedding. And I believe his inebriated brother answered the phone first and went “Benjamin’s cell phone!” And I said, “Hi, this is Vin Scelsa,” and he says, “Oh hi! We’re at a wedding!” “Well, ah, I need to talk to Benjamin,” And he says, “Well, I gotta’ find him!” It’s this big family gathering somewhere in the midwest right? And, ah, the cat finally calls me back like a half hour later and he’s like, “Wow, um, thanks for callin’, what’s up?” I say, “Tell me about this song. When did you write this song?” He said he wrote the song last August, recorded the song last October. I said, “What was the impulse for writing the song “Crash Site?” It’s about a plane crash.

He said he had for many years suffered from recurring dreams, nightmares, about being in a plane crash. Sometimes he was in the plane crash, sometimes he was just observing the plane crash. And he finally got to the root of it… as a young boy he was the victim of divorce and his parents lived far away from each other so that every time that he had to go visit a parent he had to get on a plane. And as a young boy getting on a plane by himself he was horrified, as many children are, even though the stuardesses and the attendants and everything try to make it real special for a kid who’s traveling alone on a plane. He was still just a kid flying alone on a plane. He finally felt that the reason why he’s had these recurring dreams about danger on a plane is because of this early childhood incident…

So, the album was scheduled to be released the week of the bombing. He put the release back — he was going to have a release party and everything else — — and he felt so uncomfortable about it that he actually went into the studio and re-recorded the song with a more upbeat ending so that the crash occurs, and at the end of the original version the narrator just wants to be left on the ground. But he made a new version of it which he’s performing at gigs and selling to benefit the relief effort, where his last words are “but we will get up and rise again,” or something like that. He tried to make it less down, less sour. However, the original version is really the great version of the song.

So with that in mind and with a warning that if the subject matter of this song, which is a plane crashing and someone goping through the thoughts of a plane crashing, for whatever reason is going to upset you, it’s 4 minutes and 24 seconds long, you can turn off the radio. But you should listen to it because you might find youself profoundly moved by it. It’s an extraordinary song and unfortunately the timing is just so ironically wrong for this song but I think it deserves a hearing. So, from Benjamin Wagner on “Idiot’s Delight” 90.7 FM, the song is called “Crash Site”…

WFUV’s Idiot’s Delight (90.7 FM New York, NY)

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