Saturday, September 9, 2017

Welcome to the 'bers



The four month stretch starting with September is probably my favorite time of year. The end of summer heat, the refreshing chill in the air, in the past often a relocation to college or a job change, the changing colors, the gales of November, the first snow.  For most people it would also be a time for important family holidays but that was never my lot.

This year I started the ‘bers in the emergency room for the second time in less than year. This time it was a blood clot in my leg, superficial but large, so I’m on a blood thinner.  My doctor doubled the dosage the emergency doctor had put me on and I’m scheduled to see him again in three weeks. The leg has improved as far as the most obvious symptoms, but I’m still nervous about some other achiness and what might be going on inside.  I’ve always known getting old was not going to be easy for me and this is certainly proving it.  Most nights I leave the light on until I finally fall asleep reading.  Just before the clot happened, I had started making plans for and looking forward to a mid-October trip which is now up in the air because of the eight hour bus trip.

I’ve given away the beer I had in the refrigerator due to alcohol increasing the risk of bleeding while on the drug, and am looking at this as a good time to improve my diet and lose some weight—five pounds so far.  I don’t have much appetite and would probably be eating even less if I didn’t need to take the drug with food.

A couple months ago I rebought some favorite songs from long ago in my life and was struck by a theme in the lyrics.  I made a few notes then for a post I was going to call The Sounds of Solitude which I’ll include here.

Most of the songs predated my college time by a few years, but the memories I associate most strongly with them occurred while I was at college.  I think my first exploration into soul, jazz, funk, came with the music of War, and one of my favorite songs of theirs was Gypsy Man.  A couple bits of lyrics:

They call me a gypsy man
'Cause I don't stay in one place too long
I'm searchin' for a brand new world
To make and call my home

A gypsy man ain't got no home
But sometimes I wonder is it best that way

During my freshman year in college, our dorm or floor ordered t-shirts with individually chosen names on the back.  My Virginian roommate wore Southern Man, and I was Gypsy Man.  I later lost that shirt in a canoeing spill.

By my junior year, the music of the Marshall Tucker Band was blasting as people skateboarded down the hallway.  A prominent flute and some jazz-like creativity raised them above the average southern rock band.  I bought half a dozen songs by them; some lyric samples from several songs:

And the time has finally come
For me to pack my bags and walk away

Gonna take a freight train
Down at the station, Lord
I don't care where it goes

Can't you see, can't you see
What that woman, she been doin' to me

So I don't want you to think
That you're the first one
To leave me out here on my own
Cause this ain't gonna be the first time
This ol' cowboy spent the night alone

And from their biggest hit:

If I ever settled down
You'd be my kind
And that's a good time for me
To head on down the line

I'm the kinda man likes to get away
Likes to start dreaming about
Tomorrow, today
Never said that I loved you
even though it's so
Pack that duffle bag of mine
It's time to go

I'm gonna be leaving
At the break of dawn
Wish you could come
But I don't need no woman tagging along
Gonna sneak out that door
Couldn't stand to see you cry
I'd stay another year if I saw teardrops in your eyes

I guess the recurring themes there are pretty obvious.  I’ve never thought of myself as a big traveler and don’t really like it, but a couple years ago I learned of a grade school classmate who still lived in the small town we’d grown up in, and thought of the many people here who’ve never lived anywhere else. But rather than physically, my wanderlust has always been a more emotional and intellectual restlessness.  And though I’ve longed for love and on the rare occasions I let it happen, often tried to hold onto it too hard (while pushing it away at the same time), deep down I’ve never really believed in it as a long lasting thing.

Listening to all these songs again, and thinking of many other favorites from that period which showed the same longing, I wondered about my own version of the chicken and egg question.  Was I already naturally a romanticized loner in my teens drawn to music which reinforced that attitude, or did the music I listened to help to create that persona?