I don’t know what’s happening to me. I can’t decide if I’m hard or soft. I guess both.
I spent the late morning and early afternoon unloading a truck at Walmart with heavy metal blasting.
And liked it.
I’m CAP 1 stocking crew. CAP 2 usually unload trucks when they start at two, but things are in disarray at my store what with absenteeism related to Covid 19 and everybody’s nerves frayed, so last two days the age-diverse CAP 1 crew — a mix of old guys like me and some young people thrown in — had to do it. The hard gargle of metal vocal and that battle-axe guitar attack usually leave me cold. But today some of it came through as precisely what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be about. Maybe it was Metallica I was listening to; them I always liked. Or maybe Slayer. Who knows?
Slayer, a well-known metal band
All I know is I worked well with this raucous stuff blasting. Some things, you can’t have “nice” music as a soundtrack to.
Like when I was in the gym trying to bench two hundred three times and “My Sweet Lord” came on the Classic Rewind they pipe in there. I had to ignore the song to get mad enough to attack the bar. Now I love that song! George Harrison is in heaven, I wear him in my heart. But it wasn’t working for me to lift weights. (I like to think George would understand.) “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf or “Hang Fire” by the Stones might have worked better. There’s a time and a place for the hard and raucous.
But my musical tastes have drifted of late into the lyrical and innocent, and into years past, into realms one might call those of the doddering old sentimentalist.
Recently I had this unopposable yen to use my Spotify app to find songs nobody but me is looking for. I sat in my office and bathed myself in decidedly unhippyish half-century-old pop hits on my Bose desktop speakers, turned up pretty loud. I didn’t care that Barb across the house might wonder what I was up to. She leaves me to my musings and soul adventures when I’m in my sanctum.
First, I found the YouTube video for “I’ll Never Find Another You” by the Seekers, a folk-influenced Australian pop quartet who were big in my younger days. The song could be a statement of friendship, a testimony of what a fine and memorable friend someone was. But it might be about romantic love.
There is always someone
For each of us, they say
And you’ll be my someone
Forever and a day.
I could search the whole world over
Until my life is through
But I know I’ll never find another you.
The Seekers may look square, but ‘Another You’ still hits me where I live.
So much drifts by, flotsam. What – or who – rises above the ruckus and letdown of life to provide a sustaining voice, a calming hand, a wise counsel? Female voices that are pure – another is Welsh singer Mary Hopkin in “Those Were the Days,” a McCartney composition – elevate the spirit. Maybe I love the woman who sings lead for the Seekers. Judith Durham made this a 1967 hit. I think maybe the song stuck with me because that was a golden time in my life.
The next song I had to hear on YouTube was even more explicitly romantic, “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens. When their collaboration came out, in 1963, I took no notice. I heard it over the years as an oldie and might have liked it all right. Then it began to captivate me when I heard it again in yet later years. It stuck in my heart, a musical amulet, a pure and very lush celebration of amour, shamelessly immediate, even embarrassing, but real.
“In the mist of a memory / You wander all back to me / Breathing my name with a sigh.”
“And as long as my heart will beat / Sweet lover, we’ll always meet / Here in my deep purple dreams.”
This could be called pap. Schmaltz. Guilty as charged.
But it’s sung with such passion it becomes … true. Not what you sing, but how you sing it.
Why would such songs demand to be heard on this particular day of my life, at this particular juncture of my battle to find meaning in this existence, when the existential fact is that there is none?
It’s a blind need that brooks no reasons. I needed those songs. I needed them because … well because I can’t make it on reality alone.
We who dream of love, or who remember it, have to do the work of making the world go round.