Hitchhiking fate to the family star, My Baby ran away to join the circus. They made their way through Europe in a procession of caravans, as part of a vaudeville troupe they’d met in Spain. Wheeling into town after town, performing every night and practising in the day, My Baby learnt the art of performance. As sword-swallowing and
knife throwing were not skills at which they excelled, they found in the mixing of their voices a magic that brought the rowdy audience of drunks and boisterous children under their spell. When the two brothers and one sister held certain harmonies it was as if the alchemy of the
moment ran like quicksilver through the crowd.
On one particularly humid night, somewhere in the south, My Baby were playing a bar which liked to book up and coming acts. It got humid as hell that night, the place was packed, and the atmosphere was fully charged. It took them a while to get on stage (I found out later that was due to an argument among the musicians about whether Mohammed Ali would have been better at the trumpet or guitar). The audience started to get impatient. It was like the mood of the weather and the feeling in the room were connected. And when the heavens finally opened, and
they 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 arms around the brother, who was smiling at us while singing and playing drums. It was a spell to stand there, in the middle of those three-part harmonies, standing on stage and looking back at the swaying mass that was the audience. I saw couples grabbing each other close, whispering confessions; I saw groups hanging off the stage and nestled up amongst the piano; girls lying in the beams, smoking in the ceiling. They sang along with the choruses, they applauded with love at the end of each song and they willed My Baby to sing more, to sing
better, to take them somewhere special.
Midnight Turns came at us out of the dark, a benediction of light as the storm played away outside, clearing the air and returning to us some feeling of grace. It was a perfect performance, My Baby as singers but also as a singing family, travelling through the world and trying to sing the truth of what they see. The last note faded, sacred, and, for one second, everything remained in perfect equilibrium. This was rudely broken by the banging entrance of three
policemen, none of them smiling. They marched towards the stage with expressions as implacable as mountains and a body-language that spoke of unfriendly things.
The musicians were already in their cars by the time My Baby made it out the back. They hid for a while under one of the old wagons. Then they ran for it and by grace and good footwork, got themselves down to the railway tracks. The summer air, cleared after the storm, was sweet
and three teenagers stood, for a second, in freedom and wonder. It was then they felt the tingle of the tracks, the rumble of something coming unmistakably down the line. They hopped their first train, and it took them to freedom and the stars.