Posts Tagged ‘songs’

We Wanderers

October 14, 2018

For a very long time, people have been wandering through our world.

Many choose the rootless lifestyle because wandering makes them feel free. Others crave adventure, or exotic experience. Some launch out in search of new opportunities, greener pastures, richer soil, more money and less trouble, or better jobs. Or maybe just wide open spaces instead of crowded hovels.

Pilgrims wander in search of the sacred; saints strive for holiness; sinners search for sin,  seekers seeking yang or yin.

Immigrants flee political oppression; maybe they’re escaping persecution, evading execution,  or fleeing war-torn areas.

Refugees are all over the globe, frequently concentrated at certain infamous borders. We see pictures of them with trouble in their faces and children on their backs.

In earlier ages of our world development, populations were concentrated in old world cities and settlements. By ’n by, through exploration new world continents were discovered. Immigrants began streaming to the open lands. They spilled across borders, through forests, across streams, over mountains. We congregate along coasts.

Only two centuries ago, the North and South American continents were wide open spaces, as compared to the Old World. While our undeveloped wide open spaces were  being populated, millions of immigrating travelers streamed in through the ports; they trundled through the coastlands, trudged across vast prairies, navigated the swift rivers, slogged over steep mountains.

But eventually those wide open spaces filled up with settlers. From virgin countryside, the New World sprouted millions of farms, foundries, factories, and modernizing facilities fulfilling functions about which our forebears held absolutely no understanding. All along those rising watchtowers and MainStreet thoroughfares  towns sprung up;  cities burgeoned into metropoli, and before you knew it America was as crowded as the old country.

When the Irish and the Italians, and all them other Europeans, Africans, Germans, Asians and Aegeans crowded in, New York and Boston and Philly and all them other cities became crowded, almost like the Old Country had been.

Americans worked hard and prospered. We got rich. Agriculture was flowing; industries were growing, stores and businesses were showing so many services and goods. Everybody’s fat n’ happy, pleasing mom ’n pappy; wages high; expenses low, keepin’ up with them Joneses just for show. And we built ourselves quite a nice little nation which later became, after a couple of world wars, a beacon of liberty in the eyes of the world.

   StatLibty

Well that was then and this is now.

After 9/11, seems like everything changed, and not for the better. Instead of grace and generosity, we seem to have slid into a descent toward selfishness and paranoia.

And I can understand that.There are, after all, bad people in the world, and terrorists and self-righteous fanatics who are willing to destroy the world in order to save it. And yes, we do have to form a humane strategy for protecting our citizens from war and destruction. Let’s not forget, however, that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We need not slip further into xenophobia than we already have.

As our British brothers and sisters had earlier discovered, running an empire is no walk in the park.

Now what used to be the great American experiment seems to be slipping into a world gone mad.

Sad.

As I was pickin’ around with some tunes recently, I remembered an old song from back in the day that pertains to these matters, as conditions had existed in the earlier times, when everything was different and the continent we absconded from the natives was still wide open with what we thought was freedom and possibility.

I stumbled across a tune from rhymin’ Simon. The song moved me deeply, so I thought I’d toss it out there for you to hear and ponder. I hope Paul doesn’t mind, especially since he himself borrowed part of the tune from an old Christian hymn.

  Paul’s American Tune.

And here’s another old tune from back in the day, which I think Woody or Pete had something to do with.

  Wayfarin’ Stranger

As you listen, I wish you to be warm and well-fed, which is what most folks in this world are searching for, at least until they manage to become fat ’n happy.

King of Soul

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Puff and Jackie Paper

June 5, 2018

For many, many years I have wondered about Peter Yarrow’s mention of “a land called Honah Lee,” in that silly old song he wrote about a dragon named Puff.

Just yesterday I was wondering as I wandered along the shoreline of Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii.

While vacationing on the north shore of Kauai I had been feeling a little constricted by the touristy setup there. It was obstructing my sense of adventure.

So, busting out of conventionality, so stealthily did I violate the boundaries of tourist propriety by launching into an unauthorized jungle trek.

Jungle2

Past the condos and the pool and the shuffleboard court and the boats-for-rent and the obligatory paraphenalia of predictable recreation, I stepped stealthily into a kapu area of overgrown, untended wild Hawaiian hoohah!

Through broadleaf wild flora damp with recent rain I did venture, stooping beneath gangly trees, tromping around some ancient black volcanic boulders and fearlessly bounding over others, I hazarded the uncharted course I had serendipitously set for myself, plodding along the secret shore, and footprinting wet brown sand, I splashed forth  through shallow wavelets along the neglected eastern edge of Hanalei Bay.  This untamed pocket of Hawaiian paradise has somehow proliferated between two resortified developments of American flimflam.

’T’was then the dragon entered my mind:

“Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea,

and frolicked in the autumn mists of a land called Hanah Lee.”

Here was I, perchance, sauntering adventurously through the last wild boundary of Hanalei Bay, maybe a little like the legendary Puff in that old classic Peter, Paul and Mary song:

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z15pxWUXvLY

Within the deep recesses of Baby Boomer recall, Puff the Magic Dragon still yet  blows through, across an ocean of imagination. Can you hear the tale?

“Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff

and brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail;

Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail.”

Once upon a time, when there was as yet no jet-plane, no cruise-boat, no trans-Pacific ocean liner. . . long, long ago while approaching an island far, far away, during an age in which the only transport to these remote islands of Hawaii was by sailing ship. . .

“Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,

and brought him (from highly developed, civilized countries far, far away) “strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.”

Do kids these days even know about strings and sealing wax? This is ancient legend stuff. I mean, who uses strings and ceiling wax these days? Who folds an envelope and closes it and then affixes the back flap with a buttoned string and a blob of richly-colored wax impressed with a regal insignia?

Nobody I know of. You?

These were communicative implements of a by-gone age, when persons of certain authority or rank used strings and ceiling wax to assure a remote recipient that the letter or parcel being hand-delivered had originated with the accredited sender.

Such strings and sealing wax were used in centuries long gone, when mighty sailing ships voyaged halfway around the globe from London or Lisbon or Boston or some such port of great commerce.

Those majestic ocean-going vessels would arrive with pomp and fanfare at many  an exotic destination along the way, where fabled creatures inhabited magical shores, places where a fast-industrializing world had only recently managed to  impose  its rigid demands of productivity, efficiency and conformity on clueless, unsuspecting noble savages such as Hawaiians were when all this commercializing globalization had only just begun.

Puff the Dragon was the quintessential  wild uncivilized creature of old; he held sway over that formerly vast, untamed region where primeval legends prevailed, as yet unspoiled by modern mediocrity, a time and place where magic and myth, not capitalizing pragmatism, still reigned supreme.

So, in the 1950’s-60’s televised commercialized USA where young Baby Boomer imaginations ran wild with the likes of Mickey and Minnie and Davy Crockett and the Jetsons and the Flintstones . . .

Little Jackie Paper, the nascent civilized child, found Puff among his privileged playthings. And letting his imagination run wild, he frolicked with Puff in the autumn mists of a land called Honah Lee.

For a few years, he made play of Puff— until young Jackie decided to move on to bigger and better pursuits . . . baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, Elvis and the Beatles, Mustangs and Volkswagens,  Lost in Space and lost in purple haze,  caught up in fantasy and privileged college days, gathered up in protests and rockfests and counterculture forays, and eventually outgrowing even all that stuff and finally picking up the better “toys” of governments and companies and  corporations . . .

“A dragon lives forever; not so little boys.

painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys.

One grey night it happened; Jackie Paper came no more,

and Puff that magic dragon ceased his fearless roar.”

Surely we now understand this about Peter Yarrow’s classic song of forsaken childhood innocence: In the end, Puff ceased his roar because . . .

Jackie ceased his playing. The roaring voice that had bellowed was not Puff’s at all; it was young Jackie’s intonation of Puff’s imagined roar.

Remembering this old tune while trudging along Hanalei bay. . . dredges up old memories.  My feeling is that the quaint longevity of this simple song slips up from beneath the surface of a sea deeper  than mere child’s play.

It is a longing for the past; it is a vague recollection from our collective vault of  wishes and dreams; it is a pining away for a former age of mankind, a time when the people who were in charge of things were benevolent and empathetic, a Camelot time before the brouhaha of democracy, a Shangri-La time before the anarchy of revolutions, before the abuses of communism. . . a simpler, Arcadia time before everything got so complicated and leaders were not so self-infatuated, a time when . . .

“Noble kings and princes would bow whenever they came;

pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name.”

  King of Soul

The Snowbird Lesson

December 30, 2016

When I was a child in Mississippi, we had a book about birds of North America. For some reason, I know not what, I became fascinated by a certain bird that was pictured therein. It was the snowbird. Being a boy from the deep south, I had not seen much snow, which was a rarity where I come from.

Perhaps that rarity factor is the reason I was fascinated by the picture of the snowbirds in my little book.

Now I’m sixty-five, and living in the Blue Ridge mountains, which can be quite snowy this time of year.

Early this morning, December 30, we did discover the first snow of the season, and I have to tell ya– along with the whitey flakes the snowbirds made their visit known to us.

Snowbird

Later in life, When I had become young man, I became fascinated with a song called “Snowbird” that was a hit on the radio at that time, 1960’s. It was a tear-jerker tune, sung perfectly by a lady known as the Canadian songbird, Annie Murray.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq9bHd58-LA

“Snowbird” is a sad song about unrequited love.

“When I was young, my heart was young then too. Anything that it would tell me–that’s the thing that I would do.

But now I feel such emptiness within for the thing that I want most in life’s the thing that I can’t win. . .

and

“The breeze along the river seems to say, that she’ll only break my heart again, should I decide to stay.

So little snowbird take me with you when you go to that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow.”

. . . and yet, beneath the poem’s cold mantle of forlornness there is a trace of hope, a mention of “flowers that will come again in spring.

As it turned out, in my life the flowers did “come again in spring.” Those misadventures in love that later became a flood of heartache ultimately were buried in the fertile ground of life’s demands. Not only were seeds of new love sewn providentially into my life, but those seeds have yielded new flowers and more seeds.

Yet still, “the snowbird sings the song he always sang, and, as it turns out, eats the seeds always needs.

The snowbirds visited our house this morning, and wow! did they have a feast!

Snohello

Those little critters are much like the two humans–my wife and I–who find much joy in providing seed for them during this snowy season. There’s Snowy on the ledge, and his wifey down in the tree:

SnoMates

Thanks to love and marriage, which go together, you know, like a horse and carriage, or like . . . snowbirds and snow, my life has turned out to be a love feast instead of the festival of the broken-hearted that might have been, had not a wonderful loving woman come in and changed all that lovesick blues to pure white marital love, 37 years of it.

I wouldn’t trade marital love for anything in the world. It’s so much better than the broken heart that might have become bitterness. Thank God for true love that is lasting and faithful.

Here’s another version of the song, “Snowbird,” as recorded by the songwriter, Hank Snow.

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBwqqH0LTyI

And here’s a parting pic of little Snowy with his Finchy friend.

Snowb&finch

Glass half-Full

The Troubled Waters

July 26, 2016

TroubledRiver

Paul Simon presents a grim solemnity as he croons his old tune, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, for the convened Democrats yesterday in Philadelphia. In  sharing with them this classic, well-loved anthem that he wrote, Paul imparts a  sense of profound desperation. But the weary, hopeless person whose dire circumstance is so poetically described in the song receives, in the end,  a deliverance. Hope shines through when a caring friend intervenes.

Paul’s tender message of friendship is well-received by the Democrats. They take the inspiration to heart by joining in, and swaying to the music’s gentle rhythm.

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v12fPV6QmeU

While viewing this scene on YouTube yesterday, I noticed Paul’s grave countenance, and I was a little surprised by the obvious aging that has reshaped his face.  Many years ago, I was greatly moved–as many of my boomer generation were– by his poetic, prophetic songs. Here is one from back in the day, for which he is perhaps most well-known:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDIjj7CQYZw

 That was Paul Simon then, in 1965; but this is now, 2016. The world seems to be a very different place.

Yesterday in Philadelphia, the assembled Democrats responded empathetically to Paul’s solemn presentation of Bridge over Troubled Waters.      

But We Americans are a diverse collection of people. Those communitarian Democrats represent a certain segment of our population. There is, however, another strain of us Americana whose emphasis is not so much on community and everybody getting together to solve society’s problem.  I’m talking about the rugged individualists.

About the same time–mid 1960’s–that Paul Simon was so profoundly poeticizing our youthful alienation, there was– on the golden horizon of seasoned celebrity– another very popular singer. He was a smooth crooner whose older, mellowing generational zeitgeist had arisen from a very different historical time and circumstance.

Here’s a clip of Frank Sinatra, the original crooner a la 1940’s, as he belts out the song that became a theme for many, many Americans of his generation. It is a tune that expresses the determination and perseverance of his generation–the same generation that ran the Nazis and the Fascists back into their holes over there in old Europe.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnXIPV6Jh4Y

Ole Blue Eyes Frank made it big during his given time. Back in his day it was all about celebrating the good times that settled in after the War, getting all dressed up, having a few drinks, and laughing.

A couple of decades later, the sensitive poet Simon, like Dylan and others, came along, touching the troubled nerve of a booming generation that couldn’t seem to find its place in that old way of viewing the world.

So, seeing yesterday, ole Paul as he lead the communitarians in wailing that tender tune–this had an meaningful impact on me. Finding myself now in a never-never land between two obese political parties, I am alienated, wandering, looking for the party, but unable to find one that celebrates what I know to be true.

Stranger in a strange country, I wonder as I wander. . . out under the darkening sky.

But every now and then I encounter something or someone that partly expresses what I dimly discern in this land of  troubled waters– a stubborn, though fragile, life that is draped in mystery, yet with occasional glimpses of our sure mortality, and a hopeful longing  for immortality.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuXb4She_sU

Glass half-Full

The Brightness

October 2, 2015

I snapped this pic yesterday at sunset on Hapuna beach:

SSetBrite

What fascinates me here is the brightness of the sun’s reflection. Both the sun and its reflection on the ocean water are captured in the photo, making the sun’s effect on the image doubly bright.

There’s one source of light, the sun, the appearance of which is made twice as intense by its reflection on the surf.

It’s funny what this made me think of–a scene in the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.

When I was in college at LSU, many and many a year ago, I went to a road-cast presentation of that incredibly expressive musical play. It blew me away.

Which is to say. . .I enjoyed it very much. The music therein is an incredible piece of work, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. I think those guys wrought a new genre at that time–a thing called rock opera, which was as fresh and new in 1971 as, say, the original opera genre was for Italians back in the day when Verdi was composing great emotive arias with incredible cadenzas and powerful ensemble singing scenes.

Among the many amazing scenes in that play is one that endures in my memory even to this day. It’s a dim recollection, in the sense that I can’t recall exactly which scene it was; but I do remember there, in the scene, there was some kind of exquisitely choreographed crescendo of frantic motion and dissonant voices, disintegrating musically into librettic confusion and wild cacophony,  when suddenly–a presence, a dramatic presence, accompanied by overpowering musical intervention, personified by the entrance of some powerful entity, maybe a king or a gifted leader. . .the entrance of the man, Jesus, eclipsed all the singers’ disintegrating harmony as the superstar of the show arrived upon the scene.

A bright light overpowering darkness.

Here’s a version of the scene that I found online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG1JWJFGfOU

When I ponder what happened in that scene at the Temple in Jerusalem, I think of it this way, as the prophet Isaiah had foretold, in the 60th chapter of his prophetic writing:

“Nations will come to your light, and kings

to the brightness of your rising. . .”

The brightness of his presence eclipsed their depravity.

And that overpowering illumination is what I thought of when I viewed the sunset pic, which I inserted at the top of this here blogpost.

As for the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, I consider it a musical work of absolute genius, but I do have one problem with the play. . .

no Resurrection scene.

About seven years after I was blown away by  that awesome musical stage production, I arrived at a point in my life when I came to believe that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, and he will come again, as Messiah for all the world, and on that day. . .

Nations will come to his light, and great men and women will be drawn to the brightness of his coming.

You believe that?

Whether you do or not, watch a video of Jesus Christ Superstar. Then decide for yourself whether there should be a Resurrection scene. I hope you can rise to the occasion.

 

Glass half-Full