Today’s song came out in 1994. IBM had just purchased the company who employed me; that company had purchased the start-up that I’d been working for. So my employment record was like Russian dolls (which originated in Japan, BTW).
We were living in Half Moon Bay, CA, and had a comfortable life. But I had an uncomfortable feeling it was going in the wrong direction. We started making plans about where we could move. Texas? North Carolina? Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Washington…we roamed the net, searching for answers.
I’d just sold a few short stories, so I as feeling good about that. This song came out. Catching me by surprise on the radio, the repeated chorus, “What you waiting for”, seemed expressed directly at me. I listened to see who it was, but the radio didn’t say.
I hunted it down on the net, learning it was Gwen Stefani, “What You Waiting For?” Later, I read that she’d written the song in response to having writer’s block. That resonated with me.
All of that is background. Today, it was about the cats. Our air is at 52. Don’t even smell smoke any more (which reminds me, check on the fires up north and down south). The cats had been released when we hit moderate on the AQI scale, much to their joy. Today, I had the door open to let in Tucker.
He paused to sniff the air before entering, then sat down. Looking up, he intently regarded me. To which I said (yeah, you know), “What you waiting for?”
It’s a good song for today. What are you waiting for? November? Clean skies and better weather? An end to the pandemic? A sign of God.
Reading news of dysfunctional America, where political leanings can almost be discerned by who is wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, the Green Day song, “American Idiot” flooded the morning’s musical stream.
Written in 2004, the war in Iraq, election of George Dubya Bush and the U.S. political scene inspired “American Idiot”. Seems like we’ve gone from bad to disastrous. But, as always, just when you think you hit rock bottom, some new madness will emerge.
I’m waiting, breath not held, so see what that is. “Welcome to a new kind of tension, all across the alien nation, where everything isn’t meant to be okay.”
I was out walking. Spring and winter have been doing a back and forth. It looked like spring had seized momentum. Yellow daffs, Oregon grapes, clumps of orange, red, and yellow tulips, and blossoming trees gave our town colorful highlights that it usually lacks. Passing some houses that looked tired and neglected, I wondered about the people living behind the dirty windows and high weeds. Evidence of projects begun and never finished rests in piles of stones, dirt, and half-completed dirt. Some reason, then, I started streaming “Take Me Out”, Franz Ferdinand (2004).
Well, I knew it wasn’t some reason that I began streaming the song. It’s because these facades hid people who could be living the quietest and most desperate lives, dealing with pains, diseases, and medicines, aging and dying beyond the grasp of their dreams. I wondered about their quality of life. I wondered what they would say if they had the chance, and if any would ask, take me out of here.
I always enjoy the sense of being lost and finding yourself. Maybe I enjoy that sense because I do it often, and I do it often because I like the feeling of reward I get from finding myself after being lost. It can be a pretty damning web.
I was thinking of all that today as I walked, recalling “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall. Her song always imparts that sense that, out of all being presented in our minds, there are pieces we must pick out and fit together to solve part of the puzzles that we are. The thing about solving the puzzles that we are is, we’re never finished. As dynamic as southern Oregon weather, we as people change as frequently.
I don’t know what you think about the song, or the search for yourself, but it’s a good tool for furthering exploration of my infinite existence. The song came out just fourteen years ago, though. Before it, I often used Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” for the same purpose. You might realize that “Comfortably Numb” only came out in 1980, and ask (if you’ve read this far), “What song did you use before that?”
Well, that would be “The Real Me” by The Who. And before then?
The area was home to me for three years, culminating in my high school graduation and subsequent military enlistment. That was childhood’s end. But this is where my wife’s mother resides, so here we are.
Its patchwork roads connect patchwork towns. Old schools have been re-purposed as hopeful enterprises but they already look enervated. As I drive around, noting changes and the lack of change, I’m reminded of cancer. So much of the area strikes me as blighted. Fast food businesses and gas stations dominate with their neon, plastic and bright colors, as the businesses of the last century lay barren beside them, empty and crumbling. It’s sad art, expressing the truth of the area, and America in general.
Remembering ex-classmates, I peer at each face about my age and wonder if I know them. I doubt few of them planned to live a patchwork life, and mock myself for thinking, that because I moved away, I’m living more than a patchwork life.
Out of that cesspool of reflection comes some Green Day. From 2004, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’.