Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Stephen Stills wrote this tune for sweet blue-eyed Judy Collins as their relationship was falling apart, and it remains one of the most tender and heartbreakingly beautiful songs ever recorded.

Had this ditty stuck in my head and just felt like sharin’.

It’s getting to the point where I’m no fun anymore
(I am sorry)
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
(I am lonely)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
Remember what we’ve said and done and felt about each other
(Oh, babe have mercy)
Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now
(I am not dreaming)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Tearing yourself away from me now you are free
And I am crying
This does not mean I don’t love you I do that’s forever
Yes and for always
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
Something inside is telling me that I’ve got your secret
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard

Friday evening
Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?
Tuesday morning
Please be gone I’m tired of you
What have you got to lose?
Can I tell it like it is? (Help me I’m sufferin’)
Listen to me baby
It’s my heart that’s a sufferin’ it’s a dyin’ (Help me I’m dyin’)
And that’s what I have to lose (To lose)
I’ve got an answer
I’m going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song, don’t be long
Thrill me to the marrow

Voices of the angels
Ring around the moonlight
Asking me said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy lilting leery
Losing love lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady

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.

Valentimes

lovecrystalbridges

*sigh*

Well, here we are again.  February 14th, a date which will live in infamy for most of us lonely hearts.  Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when those of us who are alone are not allowed to forget that we are utterly alone.  For the last couple of weeks, we singles have been ruthlessly and relentlessly bombarded in person and in the media with constant reminders that we are, in fact, fucking losers.  As if I needed a reminder.  It might as well be cross stitched into a pillow in my living room.

loser pillowSeriously.

I thought I could avoid this “singles shaming” by not leaving the house today, holing up on my couch and binge watching The Walking Dead, but even a show filled with flesh-eating corpses still contains just enough romance to put a damper on the day.  And it really couldn’t have been a more perfect Valentine’s Day.  Cloudy skies and cold rain all day long– not once did the sun come out to shine, not even for a moment.  Ideal weather for suffering the tortures of the memory of a lost love.

Lucy knows what’s up

You’ve gotta give Lucy credit– at least she’s trying, though her pursuit of Schroeder is fruitless and completely misguided.  For god’s sakes, Lucy, leave the man alone– can’t you see he’s immersed in his music, not to mention he’s most likely struggling with his own sexuality?  (Does anyone else think Schroeder is gay?  I’ve always just assumed so.)  But you really do have to give Lucy props for putting her heart out there and taking a chance.  Exactly one year ago on this very blog I wrote a Valentine’s Day post in which I mentioned receiving some sage advice from a pretty girl about the importance of putting oneself out there, but at thirty-six years of age, my options are so severely limited that there’s just no point to any of it anymore.  My best option for meeting people is the bar and club scene, but despite my penchant for drinking, I don’t belong in bars.  These are locales where my misanthropy and agoraphobia can combine to make for an unpleasant cocktail.  I’m far more likely to get into a fist fight with some douchebag in a bar or a dance hall than I am to get a girl’s phone number.

Roxbury douchebagsSaid douchebags: “What is love?  Baby, don’t hurt me…”

[SIDE NOTE:  in high school, my hair and sideburns looked just like Will Ferrell’s in Night at the Roxbury]

What is love, though?  Hell if I know.  There have been a handful of times in my life where I thought I knew– I was certain that I knew– but I was ultimately proven wrong in each instance and left holding my head in my hands wondering what I could have done differently.  But there’s no use in wondering now.  The past is gone, and it’s gone for good– there’s no return to any idyllic garden.  Much like Adam and Eve, I’m no longer in paradise, but at least I’m wiser for it, right?  RIGHT?!?

[crickets chirping]

It’s quite the disturbing thing to be stuck in a perpetual state of despair and apathy.  Both states of mind seem to go hand in hand with one another, and it’s not the good kind of hand holding, either.  There’s no “off to see the Wizard” singing and skipping while holding hands bullshit here– this is the kind of death grip hand holding when someone who can’t swim is drowning, grabbing at anything and anyone they can get their mitts on and pulling them under in sheer panic and desperation.

[cue Debbie Downer music: waaahhhhh waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh]

I’m not really that bitter about the holiday, though.  I sincerely hope as many people as possible are finding happiness right now in the arms of a loved one.  I really do.  As for me, I’m going to polish off the bottle of whiskey I’ve been nursing all day in the dark with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown running on a loop until I pass out.

One day

And maybe, if you’re lucky, the changing and rearranging will be for the better and you’ll finally find yourself living the life you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll start changing and rearranging only to realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake and now there’s no going back to the world you once took for granted and second guessed. It’s a coin toss, really– life’s funny that way.

Wonder Of My Worlds

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Road to Nowhere

Heard a fun tune from the Talking Heads tonight and felt like sharing, because for the last long while I’ve felt a lot like the mini Muybridge-esque David Byrne awkwardly running in perpetual motion in the bottom corner of the music video.  I’ve always liked this song despite the strangely optimistic defeatism conveyed in it’s lyrics and melody.

Well we know where we’re going,
but we don’t know where we’ve been.
And we know what we’re knowing,
but we can’t say what we’ve seen.
And we’re not little children,
and we know what we want.
And the future is certain,
give us time to work it out.

We’re on a road to nowhere–
come on inside.
Taking that ride to nowhere–
we’ll take that ride.

I’m feelin’ okay this morning,
and you know,
we’re on the road to paradise–
here we go… here we go.

We’re on a ride to nowhere–
come on inside.
Taking that ride to nowhere–
we’ll take that ride.

Maybe you wonder where you are–
I don’t care.
Here is where time is on our side–
take you there… take you there.

We’re on a road to nowhere…
there’s a city in my mind,
come along and take that ride,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

And it’s very far away,
but it’s growing day by day,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

They can tell you what to do,
but they’ll make a fool of you,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

We’re on a road to nowhere…

The Stars Look Very Different Today

davidbowie

Rock legend and pop-music icon David Bowie died on Sunday after an eighteen-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Although I’ve never really been a fan of glam rock, I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with Ziggy Stardust. I considered myself something of an “alien” growing up– an outcast or a misfit who could never quite belong because I was just a little too smart and strange for my own good. Plus, I was born with dichromatic eyes, and people used to tell me I have “David Bowie eyes,” so I once had that going for me, too. But I hadn’t heard that comparison in a long while, as we’re living in an age where most people’s reference point for David Bowie is a Jimmy Fallon impression.

In an odd bit of prophecy, I heard the song “Heroes” this weekend, but it wasn’t Bowie’s version. Rather, it was a live recording from a long-since lost Blondie CD I found while cleaning out my car. Even odder is the fact that this live recording was from a concert held at the Hammersmith Odeon exactly thirty-six years ago today (January 12, 1980). I had forgotten how good the track was, and I must have played it four or five times in a row. One of the reasons this live track is so good is because joining Blondie onstage for that show was one Robert Fripp, the “pitched feedback” experimental guitar pioneer who just so happened to be the studio guitarist on the original record written by David Bowie and Brian Eno, and one could easily argue that Fripp deserves just as much credit as Bowie or Eno for giving the song its unique sound.

frippenobowieFripp, Eno, and Bowie being badasses in the studio

But what really makes “Heroes” such a good song is simply that it’s such a powerful piece of music.  The bittersweet lyrics tell the story of two young lovers and their doomed romance, and the beautiful music takes the lyrics to a whole other level.  With its hauntingly hopeful melody and musical progression, it’s almost an anthem of sorts– an uplifting and optimistic anthem to impossible and impermanent love.

I would argue that this is Bowie’s best song, but not only would you have to listen to his entire catalog to be able to debate the validity of my argument, you would also have to listen to his recording of this particular song, which I am not sharing with you today.  Rather, I am choosing to share Blondie’s live recording which is almost as old as I am because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I please with it. But do yourself a favor and listen to Bowie’s original, too.

R.I.P., space oddity– you will be missed.


I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can beat them, just for one day–
we can be heroes, just for one day.

And you, you can be mean,
and I, I’ll drink all the time,
’cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact–
yes we’re lovers, and that is that.

Though nothing will keep us together,
we could steal time, just for one day–
we can be heroes, forever and ever.
What do you say?

I, I wish you could swim
like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim,
though nothing, nothing will keep us together,
we can beat them, forever and ever.
Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day.

I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can be heroes, just for one day…
we can be us, just for one day…

I, I remember, (I remember)
standing, by the wall, (by the wall)
and the guns, shot above our heads, (over our heads)
and we kissed, as though nothing could fall, (nothing could fall)
and the shame, was on the other side–
oh, we can beat them, forever and ever,
then we could be heroes, just for one day.

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes

End of the Line

Finally finished one of my favorite television shows tonight.  The final season of Parks and Rec originally aired during a really tough period in my life, and I neglected to watch it at the time.  Well, I managed to catch up on the final season over the last week, and tonight I got choked up watching the last episode.  It wasn’t a particularly good episode, but the writers successfully tugged at the heartstrings of all the longtime viewers whilst wrapping up the lives of the characters we’d come to love (including my personal favorite, Ron Swanson– arguably one of the greatest television characters of all time, up there with Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson).

parksrecfinaleThe gang on the set of the show’s finale

It’s an incredibly cathartic experience to come to the end of the line of a long-running show you’ve grown to love, as it’s truly a bittersweet moment when you invest years of your life following a narrative and suddenly that narrative is no more.  In a pleasant surprise, the series ended on a musical note I hadn’t heard in quite some time:  the song “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys.  The Wilburys hold a special place in my heart, as each and every band member (Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison… hell, even Ringo Starr) was a musical hero of mine in my youth.  Given, with the collective talent of the band, one might argue that they should have produced far better music than they did.  But they weren’t out to make revolutionary recordings– rather, each of the band’s members (some of the best singer/songwriters of all time) had already done that, and now they were simply being honest and trying to have some fun.  And I can’t say that I blame them.

Please to enjoy this simple but poignant song, “End of the Line.”


Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can–
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand.

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (at the end of the line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything (at the end of the line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (at the end of the line)
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong–
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong–
Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay–
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgment Day.

Maybe somewhere down the road aways (at the end of the line)
You’ll think of me, wonder where I am these days (at the end of the line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays (at the end of the line)
Purple haze

Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove–
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love–
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (at the end of the line)
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (at the end of the line)
It don’t matter if you’re by my side (at the end of the line)
I’m satisfied

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray–
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say–
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live–
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive.

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.