Simon and Garfunkel were big in 1970 when I came to New York, America. I confess, at first, I did not get them, but then like everything that is obscure initially once you get it it stays with you. Even in your sleep – or maybe especially in your sleep. And the number one song in that category is Paul Simon’s “50 ways to Leave Your Lover” or “Get Out the Back Jack” as I remember it. The lesson is in the lyrics; while a tune gets me in the mood the message that stays is in the words. Having left a first love behind, who promised to follow me to America but later never came I held a lot of baggage. So much baggage that at first I didn’t even get the part about being free. She says
“I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover”
And then comes “Get out the back Jack, Hop on the bus Gus…” and so on. Long after it left the top-ten on radio KXNY I would moon over the song and think about how my situation was better because at least he had told me (a letter those days -equivalent of a text today). Slowly but surely though, as I unburdened myself, I came to realize that freedom was as much for me as Jack, Gus, Make a new Plan Stan.
While I loved the Mamas and the Papas – Mama Cass with her big voice was bigger than the open sky. Perhaps her voice made “California Dreaming” come so alive that I now live in California and yes it is all she promised – and more that was never anticipated.
And finally my all time favorite -Jefferson Airplane belting out Don’t you want somebody to love? Dooont yooou neeeed soooomeboddy to LOVE. And finishing with a call to action: You Better Find Somebody to Love
Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love
These songs give me perspective – even today.
And I guess it says something about timing too. My songs tell my age- when songs moved me to tears, laughter and ecstasy.
Is there a song for me today that could do the same? I am looking.
OK – this took way more than 15 minutes – almost 30 – but the exercise worked because normally I write just one sentence and edit it for the next forever!