Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Everywhere

Political World

We live in a political world
Love don’t have any place
We’re living in times where men commit crimes
And crime don’t have a face

We live in a political world
Icicles hanging down
Wedding bells ring and angels sing
Clouds cover up the ground

We live in a political world
Wisdom is thrown into jail
It rots in a cell, is misguided as hell
Leaving no one to pick up a trail

We live in a political world
Where mercy walks the plank
Life is in mirrors, death disappears
Up the steps into the nearest bank

We live in a political world
Where courage is a thing of the past
Houses are haunted, children are unwanted
The next day could be your last

We live in a political world
The one we can see and can feel
But there’s no one to check, it’s all a stacked deck
We all know for sure that it’s real

We live in a political world
In the cities of lonesome fear
Little by little you turn in the middle
But you’re never sure why you’re here

We live in a political world
Under the microscope
You can travel anywhere and hang yourself there
You always got more than enough rope

We live in a political world
Turning and a-thrashing about
As soon as you’re awake, you’re trained to take
What looks like the easy way out

We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all
It’s turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall

We live in a political world
Everything is hers or his
Climb into the frame and shout God’s name
But you’re never sure what it is

--Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Glad, Too! Lena Horne Video

The Fountain of

Youth is dull as paint
Methuselah is my patron saint
I've never been so comfortable before
Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Old Woman

Dennis and I have a lot of young friends--since he is 53 and I'm turning 48 in a month or so almost everyone we know is younger in this college town. But I remember when I was in my 20' and I thought 30-somethings were really old. Most people in their 30's had gotten through a lot of the hurdles I had standing in front of me--finishing college, finding a spouse and a job and making some sort of home. For me at the time, I had difficulty thinking beyond spring semester much less graduation. So, 10 years was practically a lifetime from where I was standing.

The church I attended was on campus and everyone was a student. There were a few grown ups with small children, but I was surprised when an older couple in their 50's started attending. They invited us students over for dinner, were available for advice and counsel and just seemed really relaxed about everything. I can't remember their names, even though I had been over for dinner on occasion. But what they shared about their walks with God was unforgettable.

One Sunday, the older gentleman got up and shared his testimony and he started with "Most often, I feel like I'm 16 still inside even though a 59 year old is staring back from the mirror at me". It occurred to me that people over 30 weren't aliens from another planet, but understand very well what it meant to be 20 or 21. As I approached my mid-20's, I was increasingly more comfortable with people 20 or more years ahead of me. But not completely. Because of my past, I had troubles really trusting elders. Well, for the most part, anyone, young or old. But especially old.

I appreciate Neil Young's song "Old Man". Young had just had his first gold record and was buying some estate that he finally could afford and settle down in. The elderly caretaker who showed him around the property impressed him, and he wrote the song about him.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Joni Mitchell is Right About Dylan

I never listened much to Joni Mitchell growing up, but her music was everywhere in the 60's and 70's. In high school, I was listening to the radio late one Friday night while working on a story for English class, my notebooks and papers scattered all around me on the living room floor a favorite program came on that played a whole rock album at a time with interviews with the artist in between cuts. That's how I learned about my favorite bands on FM rock radio while doing homework: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Moody Blues, Heart, Santana, etc... That particular night, I finally heard Joni Mitchell talk about her music and craft. I was impressed with her crystal clear Soprano and how she described coming up with her signature style--singing in the shower and letting the water hit her throat to make it undulate in an interesting pattern. I tried it later that night, it wasn't easy.

Right now, she's causing some controversy about her old friend Bob Dylan by calling him a phony, in so many words. In context of the interview, it sounds like she was getting rather irritated with the reporter making several comparisons between her and Bob, resulting in a testy response. She was making it clear that they had nothing in common, especially when it came to creativity and originality.

I agree with her. It was disrespectful because not often does the public give Joni Mitchell recognition for being as unique a musician/songwriter as she is. Not to the extent that Dylan is recognized and honored. Dylan strings along several phrases that he hears, reads and/or makes up on his own, to come up with something new from something old. It's interesting, but I'm not always convinced that what I'm hearing is really from his heart. Joni actually tells a story within a song that is visionary, poetic and from her emotions. She believes what she is singing, while Dylan works hard at making others believe that he believes.

Her music has always been complex, but as she has gotten older, they resonate even more with the intricate problems of intimacy and emotions. She became wiser and surer, but her life has not gotten easier. Maturity is coming to that place of knowing what to accept and what not to accept, of understanding where the true issues lie. Joni's work brings us deeper into the root of those things. Dylan, as much as I love his music, just wants to party on or vent, whichever of the two emotions is more pertinant. I have more of a connection with Joni Mitchell than Bob Dylan, but I prefer Dylan. He knows his audience needs music to vent or dance to, while Joni wants make an exploration and discovery.

As a freshman in college, when there was a shortage of dorm rooms, I had been thrown in with a senior for a roommate. I was 17 and she was 10 years older. I wouldn't exactly recommend it but one of the positives from that year was that she had quite the Joni Mitchell record collection and a really nice stereo. I had heard everything from Joni's work in the 60's, but her albums afterward I didn't hear much except for that radio program when I heard Don Juan's Reckless Daughter around 1977 or 1978. I especially liked "Jericho" for some reason.