Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton
“Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re saying. Only the echoes of my mind.”
Those lines were written by Fred Neil and popularized by singers Harry Nilsson and Glen Campbell in the lates 1960s. They are perfectly applicable today.
There once was a time when we looked to songwriters, poets, and novelists to be our voices among choices. They were the ones who best articulated what we were seeing, thinking, and feeling.
Their positions – the songwriters, poets, and novelists – have gone down in our society from my perspective, while everyone else’s have risen. The rise of a great mass can be as disruptive as a tsunami.
It’s not all bad, of course, this blog is an example of my voice. While my audience is small it is an avenue for me to express my thoughts not unlike the songwriters, poets, and authors of yesteryear. When there are no gatekeepers anyone can crash the gate.
Memories are often laced with nostalgia and not particularly accurate. I like to think that we listened better forty years ago, but maybe I am fooling myself?
What I do know for sure is that we don’t seem to listen very well today – myself included. “Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re saying. Only the echoes of my mind.”
Nowadays everybody can have their own personal echo chamber. And if they don’t echo back on cue, well, fuck them. That’s an unfriend or a block. Easy enough.
“People stopping, staring. I can’t see their faces. Only the shadows of their eyes. “
I have quit Twitter. Four months ago now. I was told that Twitter was needed to follow breaking news. Maybe? But I don’t miss it. A friend once described blogging as sending out words into the great white void. That’s how I felt about Twitter.
Most everybody is also staring at their phones in this moment of time and they often don’t even bother to stop to do the staring. Many a time I have proceeded down a sidewalk in right of way mode only to have someone headed my way on a collision course, looking at their phone. I hold my position, firmly. It’s like a game of chicken where only one party knows that they are playing. The results stay pretty much the same.
“I’m going where the sun keeps shining. Through the pouring rain. Going where the weather suits my clothes. “
I have just spent the summer in California and soon I will be headed back to Thailand. During the summer, and before too, I get what seems like constant descriptions of an America I have never seen. I am not saying it doesn’t exist, I am just saying I have never seen it. I don’t look for it either – maybe that’s the problem or better yet, the solution. A place where racist policemen are the norm, where white supremacists are on the rise, where innocents are gunned down daily due to corrupt politicians more concerned with NRA money than the safety of their constituents (that one is pretty accurate), where opportunities are diminishing, a country with massive amounts of people with no health insurance, saddled with paying hundreds of dollars for their insulin pens.
Who writes this stuff anyway? I’ll tell you who. Anyone who wants to. Anyone who can. And anyone can nowadays. There’s the rub.
“Well, I’ll keep on moving, moving on. Things are bound to be improving these days. One of these days.” Jackson Browne
It’s not easy remaining an optimist in the year 2019. Being too optimistic is seen as being naive and not being realistic. A surfer’s world view – only as far out as the horizon. Maybe so. From my vantage point the surfers are the ones to emulate, not the academics, polemicists or politicians.
“Just get away from the shady turf. And baby go catch some rays on the sunny surf. And when you catch a wave you’ll be sittin’ on top of the world.” Beach Boys
So what’s the point of this meandering essay? I am not sure. It may be just another example of the prevailing yada, yada, yada out there. There is no beef or bisque to this story. For that try the Ramayana.
“So I’ll seek out the company of poets, the company of poets I’ll make mine. They’re taking passion’s pulse and they are signaling the future, they’ve freedom for a mistress and they’ve history for a tutor, and they can image water into wine. ” John Gartland
But I for one will continue to look for the best words of wisdom, not on Twitter or Facebook or esoteric blogs like this one. I’ll take the good advice of John Gartland and seek out the company of poets: Dylan, Cohen, Browne, Springsteen, Minko, Prine, Young and dozens of others. For these voices not only represent the soundtrack of my life, they represent the little wisdom I have picked up along the way.
“I’d love to stick around, but I’m running behind. Running on. You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find. Running blind. Running into the sun, but I’m running behind.” Jackson Browne
This blog post is running on empty. Time to take the Doobie Brothers good advice and listen to the music or read a good book. Thanks for tuning in.