One afternoon, this blue wave washed over me, and suddenly life felt like an endless sea of longing that could never be satisfied. Or as the Buddhists say (from Wikipedia):
A basic unsatisfactoriness pervades all forms of existence, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. There is, therefore, a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.
But the feeling passed, and I think Buddhists are pretty silly to claim that one emotion, one shade of blue, is the underlying nature of all reality.
Sometimes the only way of escaping an unbearable situation is through your own imagination. Or, as the magician in “Electric Company”(one of my favorite childhood tv shows), used to say: “Change your point of view. Look at things in a way that’s fresh and new. Strange, but yes it’s true… you can never be stopped if you change your point of view.”
Good advice? Maybe, but it can make you dizzy if you take it too far.
I wrote this song while living in Nashville, where it always seemed so dark and cold, maybe because I only went out at night. To make matters worse, I tried to wear only white and silver clothes and eat only white foods… why??? I don’t know what I was thinking, but I do know it cast a cold and lonely feeling over my time there. Just thinking back on it gives me the shivers.
I wrote this song while I was living in L.A…. What is the gold time? I guess it is a time of fulfillment and completion, when all the trials a person has been through begin to pay off and their meaning is revealed. It is the idea that everything, given enough time, eventually becomes something of great value. Gold is also the color of permanence… a person searches and searches, but when they finally find what they have been looking for, that is the gold time.
In high school we read Walt Whitman’s poem, “Good-bye my Fancy”, and it struck a deep chord with me. In a way, I think of this song as being a similar story, but told from the perspective of the Fancy, rather than the man.
Good-bye my Fancy
Good-bye my Fancy!
Farewell dear mate, dear love!
I’m going away, I know not where,
Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again,
So Good-bye my Fancy.
Now for my last–let me look back a moment;
The slower fainter ticking of the clock is in me,
Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.
Long have we lived, joy’d, caress’d together;
Delightful!–now separation–Good-bye my Fancy.
Yet let me not be too hasty,
Long indeed have we lived, slept, filter’d, become really blended
Then if we die we die together, (yes, we’ll remain one,)
If we go anywhere we’ll go together to meet what happens,
May-be we’ll be better off and blither, and learn something,
May-be it is yourself now really ushering me to the true songs, (who
May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning–so now finally,
Good-bye–and hail! my Fancy.
This song was inspired by Reinhold Messner’s “The Crystal Horizon,” a book about the first solo ascent up Mount Everest, but also, metaphorically, about the challenges a person can faces while trying to follow their own path and be true to themselves. The loneliness, guilt, and doubt, but also the exhilaration.
To me, crystals, mountains, and ice all represent that place of individuality and isolation… whereas valleys represent the warmth and comfort that comes from merging with others and following a more well-trodden path. But hopefully, when a person does come down into the valley, it will be to nourish and renew themselves, not to donate blood to a wandering mercenary.
Back in the day, there was one Greek philosopher who believed everything is made of fire, one who believed everything is made of air, one who believed everything is made of water, and one who believed everything is made of earth. The one who believed everything is made of fire also believed that change and impermanence are the true nature of life (a common belief today as well). The one who believed everything is made of earth believed that nothing ever changes and that permanence is the true nature of life.
Perhaps there is one layer of life which is constantly in flux, and perhaps this layer tends to grab our attention because of its unpredictable, dramatic, and anxiety-producing nature. But beneath that, isn’t there also something so constant and steady, so soft and reassuring, that it is easy for us to forget it is even there?
This song is about that realm of comfort that lies beneath the more teetering aspects of our lives- the element of Earth!!