Changed the Locks

This Lucinda Williams song showed up in my browser the other day. I discovered Lucinda Williams when she was opening for Bob Dylan on one of his tours years ago. I probably saw her three or fours time that tour and liked her a lot. Now I have a bunch of her CD's, including the one that has this song.

My Friend Astrid

  • This song always reminds me of my friend, Astrid. She lived with me and a bunch of other friends in a house in the Avenues not far from Geary in San Francisco in the early 1970's. She was a small, pretty woman with long brown hair, which she was always rolling around absent-mindedly with her fingertips. Everyone liked Astrid a lot.

  • One day she went off to work downtown and forgot to lock the front door of our communal house. Later that night I asked her whether she had been the one to leave the door unlocked that morning. To her credit, she admitted that she had been the one. I couldn't really get mad at Astrid, she was too sweet and no one had cleaned out the house, so I displayed remarkable forebearance as she stood there, her fate in my hands. But I wanted to give her a stern warning and it came to me in a flash. "Astrid, do it one more time and I'll have the lock on the door changed before you get home. You won't be able to get back in."

  • This struck Astrid's funny bone and she went into peals of laughter, with me soon joining in. Her transgression was forgotten as we both enjoyed the mental image of her key no longer working in the door, a puzzled look on her face as she tried to get it to work. Of course I thought of Astrid as soon as I heard Lucinda Williams sing the first line in her song.

Another Story About Astrid

  • Soon after Astrid moved into the house, she set her record player up in the living room. It was one of those all in one players that had a record changer for playing LP's, a small amplifier and two wires running out to small speakers. I had quite a good stereo system, but it was upstairs in my bedroom. It was nice to be able to listen to some music downstairs in the living room and dining room. Thanks, Astrid.

  • Not long after, Astrid was playing a Bob Dylan record, either "Bringing It All Back Home" or "Highway 61 Revisited," two of my favorite records. But as I sang along with Dylan, it suddenly struck me how awful that record player sounded.

  • "Astrid, all your record player does is reproduce a vague approximation of the sound on that LP, just enough so that I can mock up the proper sound of the song in my head and I listen to that!"

  • Peals of laughter from Astrid once again, this time with everyone in the house laughing along with her.

A Fine Friend, Who I Miss

  • We lost touch many years ago. But I recently heard from a mutual friend that Astrid had passed on, after a battle with cancer.

  • I don't have any photographs of Astrid and wish that I could look at one now. Those were not the Facebook days and we didn't take many pictures back then. I'm left with only my own mental images of Astrid from those two fun experiences with her. They are valuable possessions for me now. I can look at them in the same way that I could listen to Dylan sing as she played the record.

  • Astrid never failed to lock that front door ever again. RIP Astrid, I miss you!

  • Ron Chester

Last built: Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

By Ron Chester, Monday, March 10, 2014 at 1:28 AM. Don't slam the door on the way out.