Hitchhiking fate to the family star, My Baby ran away to join thecircus. They made their way through Europe in a procession ofcaravans, as part of a vaudeville troupe they’d met in Spain. Wheelinginto town after town, performing every night and practising in theday, My Baby learnt the art of performance. As sword-swallowing andknife throwing were not skills at which they excelled, they found inthe mixing of their voices a magic that brought the rowdy audience ofdrunks and boisterous children under their spell. When the two brothersand one sister held certain harmonies it was as if the alchemy of themoment ran like quicksilver through the crowd.
On one particularly humid night, somewhere in the south, My Baby wereplaying a bar which liked to book up and coming acts. It got humid ashell that night, the place was packed, and the atmosphere was fullycharged. It took them a while to get on stage (I found out later thatwas due to an argument among the musicians about whether Mohammed Aliwould have been better at the trumpet or guitar). The audience startedto get impatient. It was like the mood of the weather and the feelingin the room were connected. And when the heavens finally opened, andthey took the stage, a flood of relief rushed across us all.
By the third song, I was on stage. Part of a group with their armsaround the brother, who was smiling at us while singing and playingdrums. It was a spell to stand there, in the middle of thosethree-part harmonies, standing on stage and looking back at theswaying mass that was the audience. I saw couples grabbing each otherclose, whispering confessions; I saw groups hanging off the stage andnestled up amongst the piano; girls lying in the beams, smoking in theceiling. They sang along with the choruses, they applauded with loveat the end of each song and they willed My Baby to sing more, to singbetter, to take them somewhere special.
Midnight Turns came at us out of the dark, a benediction of light asthe storm played away outside, clearing the air and returning to ussome feeling of grace. It was a perfect performance, My Baby assingers but also as a singing family, travelling through the world andtrying to sing the truth of what they see. The last note faded,sacred, and, for one second, everything remained in perfectequilibrium. This was rudely broken by the banging entrance of threepolicemen, none of them smiling. They marched towards the stage withexpressions as implacable as mountains and a body-language that spokeof unfriendly things.
The musicians were already in their cars by the time My Baby made itout the back. They hid for a while under one of the old wagons. Thenthey ran for it and by grace and good footwork, got themselves down tothe railway tracks. The summer air, cleared after the storm, was sweetand three teenagers stood, for a second, in freedom and wonder. It wasthen they felt the tingle of the tracks, the rumble of somethingcoming unmistakably down the line.They hopped their first train, and it took them to freedom and the stars.