And then the guy went and played a song he said he’d written himself. It was another melancholy song, about outgrowing your childhood, but somehow it didn’t make Juno feel sad. For some reason the singer pouring out his own torment like that comforted her in her own current anguish, and, strangely, she couldn’t imagine anyone but him singing that song. Her eyes automatically sought out Joni. Apparently you couldn’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain, and for some reason Joni was as mesmerized by this strange sentiment as Juno was.
That song and loud applause concluded the guy’s set, and he instantly morphed back into the mess he’d been before. There didn’t seem to be a plan for what was on next. A clean-cut guy took the mike asking if there were any other players. It surprised Juno that there was a hoot night on a Tuesday, but not as much as seeing the reluctantly adult singer looking reasonably happy now and making straight for Joni.
‘I love that song, Neil,’ Juno heard Joni say to him. ‘And y’know what, I got a surprise for you. Here!’ she called to Mr Tidy on the stage, who was clearly pleased and introduced her by her married name. She dragged a guitar case from under her seat and within a minute was singing.
Juno’d never heard the tune before, and she barely registered the awed picture Neil’s face was when he realized at the same time as she did that Joni’s song was a direct answer to his. In Joni’s song the boy was twenty, too, and she promised him plenty dreams yet to come true.
Juno felt luckier than she could ever have dreamed. Joni had written a song. A song nobody in LA knew.