The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, by Marianne Faithfull, brought to you, in a roundabout way, by a labeled but track-list-less mixtape I found in my tape box this weekend. I had to listen to it to find out what was on it, and this song was both the end of Side A and, then, because it got cut off, the start of Side B.
The mixtape was made in the fall of 1996 by one of my professors, as part of a class project. The first time I listened to it was probably the first time I heard this song. I was 21, and 37 seemed very far away. I read it as a cautionary tale. A warning, left by others: watch out, danger, here be quicksand.
Now I am 37, and, while Lucy Jordan’s despair is definitely not mine, the weight of it feels different. Heavier, I think; more real. When the path diverged in the yellow wood, I took a different one, but I can see hers through the trees.