Posts Tagged ‘Terry Gross’

The deja view of Deja Vue

October 15, 2013

Today I had a flashback of when I first heard Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Deja Vu.  This little blast from the past  occurred while I was listening to Terry Gross interview Graham Nash on the radio.

The memory is this: I was in Ironton, Ohio in the summer of 1971. Ironton is a small town on the Ohio River. I had finished freshman year at LSU, and was trying to make some money selling dictionaries door-to-door. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, because this Louisiana boy had ventured, for the first time, away from the flat, hot humid delta where I was raised, to make a few bucks in a hilly, backwoods industrial town where folks said “you-uns” instead of “y’all.”

I was a pretty good salesman I guess but nothin to write home about. And to tell the truth I wasn’t really into selling door to door, so maybe there was a little escapist streak deep inside of me that responded to the deep experience of hearing Deja Vu.

That music became an important part of my life. Now,  fast forward 42 years or so.

Today, I heard Graham Nash telling Terri that Deja Vu was a “dark” album, as compared to the first CSNY that they had done before they recruited Neil Young.

That explains a lot. All four of those guys were having a hard time, dealing with major life-setbacks when they came together to record that music in 1971 after their initial successes.

So that Ohio flashback is the deja view memory that triggered this blog, but Graham’s interview with Terri today was actually much more upbeat than the “dark” Deja Vu record album. For instance, a couple of Terry’s song selections, chosen to prompt their fascinating exchange, were very beautiful love songs that Graham Nash et al  had sung back in the day: Bus Stop, which Graham had recorded early-on with The Hollies, and  the CSN Our House.

Both songs are very precious memories for me. And both songs represent the outcome of my life much better than the angsty existentialism of Deja Vu. Because, you see, in this life I chose love instead of a trippy pursuit of music and free love and all that bohemian blahblah, even though . . . even though I carry with me, as CSNY have, the curse of musicianship.

I’m happy for them that they could do such incredibly creative work in music. But I never would have been able to get through that minefield of distractions and temptations without going crazy, like, as Graham explains, Crosby almost did (go off the deep end.)

So I chose love instead–one woman, for 33 years, and three grown young’uns. I wouldn’t take nothin for my journey now. We actually have a really Our House, which just got paid off last month, and the music schizo stuff–well, it has always been on the back burner.

Graham’s old flame, Joni Mitchell, once sang “something’s lost and something’s gained in living every day.”

So true.

The trade-offs we make as we go along–we don’t know really know what they are until we look back on them. I traded a pursuit of the wild  music scene and hippie love for true love and family life. This probably saved me a lot of pain and trouble.

“The sweetest thing I know of is spending time with you,” is a line in an old John Denver Song. It expresses well how I feel about my wife, Pat, and our long married life together, and watching our kids grow up and go out and do their own thing. And I still feel for her that fresh, newly-hatched love that Graham was describing in Bus Stop.

What it was that kept me on track and faithful all this time was certainly not anything that I could muster. It was only by the grace of God. Thank you, Jesus.

Glass Chimera 

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

March 6, 2013

Sandra Day O’Connor, former Justice of the US Supreme Court, told Terry Gross that her first job as a lawyer was taken without pay. Furthermore, Mrs. O’Connor had to occupy a desk in the secretary’s office of that law firm, because she was a woman at the time. Still is, and a woman like no other.

Justice O’Connor, with admirable pioneering chutzpah, had blazed a trail, way back in the1960s and ’50s, for women in the legal profession, as well as  for all working women generally. She was the first female US Supreme Court Justice. Three more women have been set on the Court since her unprecedented appointment by President Reagan.

But for the cowgirl lawyer from Arizona, the chauvinist humiliation she had to endure along her career path was just an obstacle to be overcome; it came with that frontier territory. Hearing her accounts, it almost seems to have been no big deal. Her primary objective seems to have been, all along, justice for the people of the United States, and not necessarily blowing some loud feminist horn.

She is a great leader in our nation. Nevertheless, she is a humble woman–a wife and mother who happens to be an attorney. One key element of her personality–I think you will hear it in the interview–is humility. Humility can carry a person a long way in this life. Justice O’Connor, like Rosa Parks, had to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous sexist prejudice. But she remained constantly humble, and determined. She would not be denied her destiny. Humility enables a talented person to endure untold subtle and blatant persecutions, because passionate vision can trump all that difficulty. Sandra Day O’Connor’s life is, in my view, a testimony to that principle.

Listening, via radio, to the testy interaction between Terry’s edgy, progressive politicism and Sandra’s prickly, accumulated wisdom is fascinating; it is an aural telescope into the generation gap of the edges, as well as the no-woman’s-land between push-the-envelope liberalism and bootstraps conservatism.

I have admired both women for a long time, although for very different reasons. This interview was an amicable match between two titans of public disccourse. Check it out:

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress