Silver Springs

Got some heartbreaking news through the grapevine the other day, and just felt like sharing one of my favorite performances of one of my favorite songs as I thought it was apropos.  I swear, I can’t make it through this tune without weeping like a damned fool.

So here’s a beautiful song for everyone who’s ever allowed themselves to lose the best thing that ever happened to them.

 

Silver Springs

You could be my silver spring,
Blue green colors flashing.
I would be your only dream–
Your shining autumn, ocean crashing…
And did you say she was pretty?
And did you say that she loves you?
Baby, I don’t wanna know.

I’ll begin not to love you,
Turn around, see me runnin’.
I’ll say I loved you years ago…
Tell myself you never loved me, no.
And did you say she was pretty?
And did you say that she loves you?
Baby, I don’t wanna know.
Oh, no…
And can you tell me, was it worth it?
Really, I don’t wanna know.

Time casts a spell on you, but you won’t forget me.
I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me.
I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you–
You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.

I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you–
Was I such a fool?
You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.
Was I such a fool?
I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you–
Give me just a chance…
You’ll never get away (never get away, never get away)
from the sound of the woman that loves you.

You could be my silver spring,
My blue green colors flashing.

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Boy Crying With Ice Cream Cone

Just felt like sharing a poem.  No particular reason.

******************************

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

-Wallace Stevens

 

Storming the Bastille

LibertyEqualityorDeath

Happy Bastille Day to all the Francophiles and other freedom lovers out there.  Bastille Day 2016 marked a banner day for the Closser clan.  I am wallowing in my own misery, per usual, while damn near everyone I love is going through something terrible.  My mother is lying in bed in a nursing home with pneumonia.  My brother’s life “got flipped turned upside down,” as the Fresh Prince would say.  And my father had to put down his dog of nearly sixteen years, a black Dachshund named “Nietzsche” who was in such poor health that there was really no other course of action but to put him to sleep.

It’s always a sad affair when one loses an animal, but as the poet Mark Doty once noted, to have a pet is to make a “pact with grief.”  Unless you own a tortoise, odds are that you will inevitably outlive the creature you’ve agreed to love and nurture, and one day you will have to deal with the grief that comes with its loss.

It’s not a Mark Doty poem I’m choosing to share below, but rather it’s a poem from Billy Collins.  I had forgotten about this particular poem, but my father mentioned it in our phone conversation this afternoon, and now I feel the need to share it.  (Apologies to Billy Collins.)

***************************

The Revenant

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you–not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair to eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and–greatest of insults–shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all of my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner–
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

-Billy Collins

 

Seasons (Waiting on You)

I’m almost ashamed to admit that it was my 70-year-old father who told me about this band.  Usually when he tells me about a band, it’s someone he heard on NPR, and let’s face it– NPR is not (nor should it ever be) the arbiter of good taste in music, especially new music.  Anyway, my father saw these guys on Letterman and told me to check ’em out.  So I did, and this single (from their appropriately titled album “Singles”) quickly became my new favorite song.  The music and lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, and the video is just as captivating as the music (maybe more so for me, as the scenery is reminiscent of the rural moments of my childhood).  When I watch the video, I am just as homesick for those lost years of my youth as I am envious of the love shared between the country couple featured.

After watching the official music video below, feel free to check out the live Letterman performance here, but be warned that the lead singer’s growling Marlon Brando-esque performance is pretty intense and might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Seasons change,
and I tried hard just to soften you.
Seasons change,
but I’ve grown tired of trying to change for you.

‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you…
I’ve been waiting on you.
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you…
I’ve been waiting on you.

As it breaks, the summer will wake,
but the winter will wash what is left of the taste.
As it breaks, the summer will warm,
but the winter will crave what is gone…
will crave what has all… gone away.

People change, you know,
but some people never do.

You know when people change,
they gain a piece, but they lose one, too.

‘Cause I’ve been hanging on you–
I’ve been waiting on you.
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you–
I’ve been hanging on you.

As it breaks, the summer will wake,
but the winter will wash what is left of the taste.
As it breaks, the summer will warm,
but the winter will crave what is gone…
will crave what is gone…
will crave what has all… gone away… 

‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you.

Leaden-Eyed Despairs

Mad_Men_Opening_Credits.gif

Finally started watching “Mad Men” a month or so ago.  I know, I know… better late than never, right?  I swear, if I had a nickel for every pop-culture phenomenon I missed the boat on…

*sigh*

When the show was originally on the air, I was a married man, and my wife at the time wasn’t real keen on letting me watch it.  I think her aversion to “Mad Men” had something to do with the show’s semi-romanticization of the misogynistic attitudes of men in that era, or it could have been the rampant alcohol abuse of nearly every character, or merely that the show’s protagonist was a philandering alcoholic son of a bitch.  Perhaps it was all of those things, I dunno.  Regardless, the award-winning television series saw very little airtime on our tv set because it simply didn’t make for a comfortable viewing experience for this particular married couple.

Cut to a few years later…

Clock.gif

I am no longer married.  I’m alone (“utterly alone” as Lydia Deetz would say), and it occurs to me that there’s no reason I can’t be watching “Mad Men,” so I begin binge-watching the show.  And it’s great.  The casting, the art direction, the set design, the wardrobes, the writing… it’s all really, really good.  And really, really depressing.  Depressing for me, anyway, but I know I have a tendency to read into things a bit too much sometimes.  I’ve made a bad habit over the years of reading the cards wrong and projecting my problems into places they don’t truly belong.  But sometimes I’m reading those cards correctly, and sometimes my projections aren’t entirely unfounded.  One such projection/problem is loneliness.

fortresssolitudeSuperman’s “Fortress of Solitude”

There comes a point when one recognizes the difference between solitude and loneliness.  “Solitude” is something we value.  Everyone needs a little time to themselves now and then.  Hell, even Superman had a “Fortress of Solitude”– a Kryptonian castle in the middle of the Arctic where the Man of Steel could get away from the hustle and bustle of Metropolis and its many helpless denizens.  Superman understood and appreciated how valuable solitude was, and you’ve got to figure that it was at his Fortress of Solitude where he also realized just how lonely he was.  When you’re a nigh-invulnerable alien with god-like powers, there aren’t a whole lot of folks who will really “get” you.  There was no one on Earth whom he could truly relate to, so he just had to get away to collect his thoughts from time to time.  And when he had that time to himself, I’m sure that Superman must have done an awful lot of thinking and introspection.  As the great poet John Keats wrote in “Ode to a Nightinggale”:

keats-by-joseph-severn

 

 

“where but to think is to be full of sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs.”

 

 

 

And I’m sure that Superman was chock-full of sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs.  Alone time is only worthwhile when you’re able to escape it– when you’re able to return to being loved and valued as a human being by another human being.  But Superman never had that.  Lots of folks don’t have that, honestly.  I myself have an abundance of alone time, with which I do an awful lot of introspection, and it’s during this alone time that I’ve picked up on a whole host of observances.  The one observance I keep coming back to– the one that keeps kicking me in the skull like an L.A. riot cop– is that I don’t even know what solitude feels like anymore.  What once was solitude to me is now strictly alone time.

I just finished watching a particularly poignant scene in “Mad Men” which really struck home with me, and I figure there’s no better way to cap off this day than sharing.

When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had.

Sing Me Back Home (R.I.P., Hag)

[NOTE:  I set out to write this post yesterday, but I was so damned sad that I couldn’t do it, so I decided to postpone it until tomorrow.  Well, tomorrow is here, and I’m still so goddamned depressed that I don’t want to write it, but if I don’t write it now, I never will, so here goes– I’m gonna’ keep it short and sweet.]

Merle-Haggard

One of the all-time greats, Merle Haggard, died on his 79th birthday yesterday.  The Hag had always been a musical hero of mine (second only to Johnny Cash) and truth be told, there are very few singer/songwriters (country or otherwise) who could hold a candle to him.

Speaking of birthdays, the best birthday present I ever received was for my thirtieth a few years ago.  Merle Haggard happened to be playing a show in Branson, Missouri, of all places, on the day after my birthday, and my brother bought me a ticket.  So he and I (and our respective exes) braved the bullshit of Branson in order to see our musical hero perform.  It was a great show, and I’ll never forget the experience.

Strangely enough, I’ve had a Merle Haggard CD stuck in my car stereo for the last couple of weeks.  Well, not stuck, exactly– I just haven’t felt the need to switch it out with anything else.  I reckon I’m gonna’ have to soon, because it’s a sure bet that I’m gonna’ cry every time I hear “Sing Me Back Home” from this point on.

Nobody could sing a song quite like the Hag, and nobody could write a song quite like him, either.  There are roughly seven-and-a-half billion people on this earth, and not one of them will ever be able to emulate both the pathos in his lyrics and the sincerity in his timbre.  The world lost one of the best its ever seen, and so I’d like to share this live performance of one of my favorite songs, performed roughly the same time I got to see him in concert:

 

The warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom,
and I stood up to say good-bye like all the rest.
And I heard him tell the warden just before he reached my cell,
“Let my guitar-playing friend do my request.
Let him sing me back home with a song I used to hear–
make my old memories come alive…
take me away and turn back the years…
sing me back home before I die.”
I recall last Sunday morning a choir from off the streets
came to sing a few old gospel songs.
And I heard him tell the singers,
“There’s a song my mama sang…

could I hear it once before we move along?
Sing me back home, with a song I used to hear,
make my old memories come alive…
take me away and turn back the years…
sing me back home before I die…
sing me back home before I die.”