Thursday, March 30, 2023

Ancient Memories Sparked by the Music Playing in My Head

So you've probably noticed by now that Beans has been doing yeoman's work keeping The Chant a going concern during my sabbatical of sorts. Lots of music to accompany his always interesting commentary about what's going on in his life.

On Monday, late Monday as I recall, while I was brushing my teeth, an old song sprang into my head from seemingly nowhere. (Though looking back at it, most probably it was sparked by the rain falling outside.)

After the song started I found myself back on Okinawa, sometime in the late 70s. It was a rainy night, I had the next day off, and I was house sitting for a buddy of mine who was TDY to the Philippines and his wife (a friend of The Missus Herself) was back home in Korea, visiting family. He didn't live on Kadena, his house was on Camp Butler, IIRC. Different vibe as I think back on it.

I was drinking a beer and listening to music, had the lights down low in the living room, the front door was open, most of the light was coming from a streetlight across the street. Oddly enough I was listening to a Joni Mitchell album. This was during my mellow period, I was on Okinawa, The Missus Herself was in Korea, and I was as lonely as can be.

Something about Monday night brought that all flooding back. So I just had to go to the Tube of You and find the album. Which I did, as I recall, this was one of my favorite songs on that album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, released in 1975.

Great tune, haven't ever really thought about the lyrics, until now ...

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Joni Mitchell

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
In flames our prophet witches
Be polite
A room full of glasses
He says "Your notches, liberation doll"
And he chains me with that serpent
To that Ethiopian wall

Anima rising
Queen of Queens
Wash my guilt of Eden
Wash and balance me
Anima rising
Uprising in me tonight
She's a vengeful little goddess
With an ancient crown to fight

Truth goes up in vapors
The steeples lean
Winds of change patriarchs
Snug in your bible belt dreams
God goes up the chimney
Like childhood Santa Claus
The good slaves love the good book
A rebel loves a cause

I'm leaving on the 1:15
You're darn right
Since I was seventeen
I've had no one over me
He says "Anima rising
So what
Petrified wood process
Tall timber down to rock"

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
He says "We walked on the moon
You be polite"
Don't let up the sorrow
Death and birth and death and birth
He says "Bring that bottle kindly
And I'll pad your purse
I've got a head full of quandary
And a mighty mighty thirst"

Seventeen glasses
Rhine wine
Milk of the Madonna
He don't let up the sorrow
He lies and he cheats
It takes a heart like Mary's these days
When your man gets weak

Now that I have ... Damn! Pretty powerful stuff.

It's amazing the memories which can be brought back to life by an aroma, a song, even the way a soft breeze feels against your face on a warm afternoon. Another favorite of mine, off of the Court and Spark album (1974), is Free Man in Paris. Though I was never in the music business, something about the song speaks to me.

But then, like Dave Grohl said, 

“That's one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they'll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”

Free Man In Paris
Joni Mitchell

The way I see it he said
You just can't win it
Everybody's in it for their own gain
You can't please 'em all
There's always somebody calling you down
I do my best
And I do good business
There's a lot of people asking for my time
They're trying to get ahead
They're trying to be a good friend of mine

I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one's future to decide
You know I'd go back there tomorrow
But for the work I've taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song

I deal in dreamers
And telephone screamers
Lately I wonder what I do it for
If l had my way
I'd just walk through those doors
And wander
Down the Champs Elysées
Going café to cabaret
Thinking how I'll feel when I find
That very good friend of mine

I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Nobody was calling me up for favors
No one's future to decide
You know I'd go back there tomorrow
But for the work I've taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song


It's what drives me.


  1. Music (and aromas) are indeed powerful things Sarge. They can take us back in an instant to a place and time - sometimes one that we think we forgot - with the clarity of the entire experience all over again. It is one of the things that continues to convince me that magic really does exist.

    1. There is magic in this world, and mystery, and beauty. Without it life is bleak and sad.

  2. I love the sound of her music. Thankfully, I have a lot of trouble understanding the lyrics. Not just her stuff, but almost any lyrics. I think it has something to do with my tinnitus. One guy I was talking with about music, when I told him my preferences - instrumental, classical, foreign folk music (if I can't understand the words, it might as well be in a language I don't understand), bluegrass (which I usually can understand the lyrics), zydeco (can ANYONE understand the words?). "Oh, so you really don't care about the words, it's the SOUND that gets you. The flow and the rhythm." Something like that. I thought about it for a bit and, yeah, as much as I like to flap my gums, for music it's the sound and not the words. Even if just the sound of the words alone, say Georgian acapella .

    I sat in on one class about music in the movies. The instructor had a movie clip, don't recall what movie, with 5 or 6 different pieces of music put in for the sound track. It was amazing how much the music changed how we interpreted what we were seeing. Tense, comedic, tragic, melancholic, uplifting, Same action, different music. As the saying goes, "Music hath charms to sooth the savage breast."

    That's the nice things about music, 10,000 people like a piece of music for 20,000 different reasons. But they all agree that they like it.

    1. There are a number of songs I like where the lyrics are, to me at any rate, nonsense. But the rhythm and the flow are what pleases me. So yeah, I get that.

    2. Zydego and tinnitus! Now we’re talking about my music too. Along with gumbo and shrimp and grits, of course.

    3. I am much like you, Joe. I have a severe lack of understanding of lyrics. Fortunately the interwebs provide access to lyrics. Otherwise, for the most part, English lyrics are just another form of foreign music.

    4. DDDD - I'm getting to the point where I need subtitles for everything.

    5. Beans - Quite often that's the case, "What the Hell language are they singing in?"

    6. For easily understood lyrics, listen to Rossini's "Cat Duet" on you tube

  3. Excellent observations. Music lifts and soothes one's soul...sometimes my mood chooses the music and sometimes the music chooses my mood. Your choice of Joni Mitchell's albums brought back good memories so I pulled up her music on my computer. I'd have to pick "Court and Spark", "Free Man In Paris", and "Car On a Hill" as my top choices on that album. Thanks for bringing this to us.
    Non-sequitur now: last Sunday me and "Lipstick 6" were sharing a pizza and beer with another couple after church. Mike and Linda mentioned their grandson is a LTJG serving on the USS Micheal Monsoor. I found that interesting since I know about that ship from your previous posts.

    1. Bingo on the mood choosing the music, sometimes the music chooses the mood, we're on the same page there.

      I might be headed back out to Monsoor later this year.

  4. Yaaay! Moustache March is almost over and I can get rid of my food filter. Although it comes in handy for a quick broth as one drinks a cup of hot water.

    1. I have a half-Selleck only because I hate shaving over my upper lip, well, that and turned in hairs, otherwise I'd be smooth.

    2. I still have nightmares over USAF mustache rules in my day. You could grow a Hitler-mustache but not a decent 'stache.

      Long live Robin Olds!

    3. Did he shave because he was out of combat or did he get told to do so?

    4. We need about a thousand men with his knowledge, courage and testosterone
      My flight commander and drinking instructor, Jesse Locke, was in many way just like him. Things fans pretty well when we did what he said. I still remember passing his table at breakfast one afternoon when he said “Fuzz, I am so pissed with you, I don’t want to see you for a while.” Funny how you remember things, huh?

    5. Things a leader says to you, tend to stick. I was a terrible airman, until a damn fine Chief told me to straighten up.

  5. Music is very interesting. Sadly some of my enjoyment of certain musician's music is tainted by their actual actions and blatherings. What's that line, "Never meet your heroes." To which I'll add, "Mostly don't watch your musicians too closely."

    Mrs. Andrew was turned off of Sarah Brightman for a long time because of PBS specials that tended to focus directly on the face of a singer trained in musical theater to be seen and heard in the cheap seats. I with the weird, gangly movements of Poe, who looks more like the movements of meth-heads and crack-users than a polished singer.

    1. I seldom, if ever, examine the political beliefs of anyone in the arts. I mean they're artists, so by definition they're a little weird.

      I won't say (much) "Shut up and sing." (Act, play sports-money-ball, whatever.) But yeah, I'm thinking it.

    2. The best ( increasingly rare) thing any of the "artist class can do is SHUT UP and sing/ play/act! I don't want their ignorant and uninformed opinions.
      One of my favorite movie scenes is Martin Sheen ( horse's ass politically) playing Gen R.E.Lee ( PBUH) and asking " We.move this army on the word of"
      Boat Guy

  6. I've still got The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Court and Spark on vinyl. Joni Mitchell is one of my all time favourites. I do feel sorry that the youth of today are denied the joy of LP covers and sleeve notes, it's great fun checking out who the backing musicians were.

    1. Some musicians do that with CDs, of course, those are smaller and not as glorious as the old LP covers. But if you stream everything, which I don't, you're missing out on a lot.

    2. When the Hissing of Summer Lawns came out one UK music critic suggested it should have been on the poetry review pages rather than the music pages. I can't disagree.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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