Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Exactly a month ago I posted a column from my favorite columnist at the SF Chronicle, the response was so overwhelming that I'm going to treat you to another, his name is Jon Carroll.

An unrelated sidenote, the day after tomorrow is my 50th anniversary in the new world. Here's Jon, the title is Gritty Great Bird.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Like houses, iPods generally get more cluttered as they get older. I got mine a few years ago and promptly uploaded 15 or 22 of my favorite CDs onto its cute little hard drive. Then I filled in some gaps by purchasing things from iTunes, then made some impulse purchases from iTunes (Mary J. Blige? What was I thinking?), then I had to impose some discipline because even at 99 cents per, the bill was beginning to mount, then I loaded in some soundtracks and other people's mix tapes, and soon I had 1,300 pieces of music and no real idea where some of them had come from.
Meaning that every little shuffle has a few surprises. Sometimes they are nice surprises, sometimes ... well, something else.
I like music that gives me a peaceful, easy feeling - including, yes, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles. In fact, I also like "Take It to the Limit" and "Take It Easy," which are Eagles songs too. I know, I know, but shut up. Yer folk-rock-pop thing, it speaks to me. Or rather, it doesn't speak to me, it just lets me alone. If I want music that speaks to me, I've got a lot of Mavis Staples on my iPod too.
I also like "Country Roads" and "Country Comforts." Both of them. Ha!
So there I was washing up after dinner, and a peaceful, easy song comes on the iPod. It sounds like a lot of other peaceful songs, and I'm sure I know it, but I can't quite place it. The chorus hooks me after two or three times: "Oooo-eee, ride me high, tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come; oooo-eee, are we gonna fly down in the easy chair."
I turned the iPod off and got on with my evening, but the chorus stuck. "Oooo-eee," love the oooo-eee, "ride me high, tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come, oooo-eee," OK, now, wait. So this guy is getting married tomorrow, and tonight he's kicking back, maybe getting a little baked, and he's envisioning the bliss that awaits him. He and his bride are gonna fly down in the easy chair. Down in the easy chair.
I suddenly have a picture of a woman in full bride's regalia straddling a man sitting in a BarcaLounger. It's not that pleasing a picture. Sometimes you can be too peaceful and too easy, and probably your wedding night is one of those times. What are we celebrating here? Who is singing this song? Why is it on my iPod?
The answers to the first and third questions are hard, but the second is easy: It's the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (memorably introduced once by George W. Bush as "the Nitty Ditty Nitty Gritty Great Bird") performing "You Ain't Going Nowhere" by Bob Dylan.
Perhaps the verses will offer clarification: "Clouds so swift, the rain won't lift. Gates won't close, the railings froze. So get your mind off wintertime, you ain't going nowhere." OK, it's winter. The railings have frozen (the railings?), and it's stormy, so no wonder I'm inside thinking about my bride, who is presumably going to be fighting her way through an ice storm to get to peaceful, easy me.
"Buy me a flute, and a gun that shoots, tailgates and substitutes; strap yourself to a tree with roots, you ain't going nowhere." This has to be a first draft; sounds like Dylan kinda took the day off, got himself a rhyming dictionary and a psychoactive substance - he wasn't going nowhere, in any sense. And yet, unexamined, it's a swell verse - although, if I ain't going nowhere, surely I don't need to strap myself to anything, unless I'm a danger to myself and others, which, given everything, maybe so.
"Well I don't care how many letters they sent, the morning came and the morning went, so pack up your money, and pick up your tent; you ain't going nowhere." Oh, come on. Why would I pick up my tent if I'm not going anywhere? Maybe I am going to be something of a bother to you and your bride, but you should have thought of that before you scheduled a midwinter wedding in rural Minnesota.
"And Genghis Khan, he could not keep all his men supplied with sleep. Well, climb that hill no matter how steep, when we get up to it." Oh, fab. I'm certain that all the members of the Nitty Ditty Nitty Gritty Great Bird will want to mention that to your bride, because there's nothing like a Mongol horde to spice up a romantic evening by the fireplace.
But, you know, who cares? I've got a peaceful, easy feeling; I'm already standing on the ground; and, as you point out, I ain't going nowhere. You two have fun; I'm retreating to my tent.

It's all fine if you don't listen to the lyrics. You mellow out, you spend time in the groove, you look upon your fellow creatures with affection. Then, uh-oh.
I like the way your sparkling earrings lay against your skin, it's so brown, and I wanna sleep with you in the desert tonight with a billion stars all around. I gotta peaceful easy feeling and I know you won't let me down because I'm already standing on

There's a blog attached, if you want to know how citizens of the new world respond, go to:


saneshane said...

Happy Half Century in the new world GF.. shall clink a glass to you...

liked the article, sometimes I listen too closely to the stupidest of lyrics and not close enough to the more profound. I'm quite into a peaceful un-easy feeling to songs though, a dark underbelly gives me great pleasure.

goneforeign said...

Shane: Thanks for the kind words, it's been an interesting ride.

treefrogdemon said...

Seems like you like it there then, gf.

I liked the article too.