Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The world we want

I saw Arlo Guthrie on stage the other day. He was just as good as he was 20 years ago. He stopped in the middle of songs and told stories, just like always. At one point he said, "Ya know, I know it would be great if the world was at peace, all peaced out and love and everything, but have you ever thought if that were how it was, just how far out of your way you would have to go to make a difference? We may live in a time when we have to do less than ever to make a difference in so many other lives."

Here is Arlo's granddaughter. He performed the middle song, "Take Me to Show and Tell" (for the first time ever) at the festival.

A festival like this brings many people together, including a few yet unborn and a few in wheel chairs. It becomes a place not just for enjoying music but for exploring. I overheard a small group of college kids discussing their futures, it brought back great memories. That is so far in my past, it’s hard to even recall being in that state of mind. Now it just seems cute.

It is pretty rare that I see or do something anymore that affects me in any profound way. But as soon as I start thinking that I have reached some sort of completion, some sort of conclusion, something comes along to remind me that there is no end. At one of the first small stages, where several bands take turns performing, there was one song, it was so good, it made me want to go sit in a cheap motel somewhere and just think about life for a while.

I knew I would want to find the lyrics and memorize them and recommend people who play guitar learn it, and tell poets and poetry lovers just to hear it and tell the next generation about it. I knew I would spend a lot of time searching for the lyrics and hoping to find a recording of that live performance. What would have taken a decade a few years ago, now can be done in a month. Here’s the YouTube,

You can see my comments on a song from the same stage asking the guy with the camera to post this one. That song is “Star of Bethlehem”, a Neil Young cover. The above was performed as the second song for the "Song Remains the Same" workshop by C. R. Avery. I can't find any other reference to it, so I'm trying to transcribe it. I'm sure I'm way off in many places.

The wind is a speed reader
It is violently flipping through the pages of a glossy pages
of the magazine's ripped manuscript,
Absorbing its wet words like a dry humored sponge.
Seattle grunge is face down in the toilet bowl
Rock and Roll in a bird feeder,
But before it rained the wind was a speed reader

In this cherry blossom grave yard the microphones don’t work
One has a cool distorted tone like a faded bed cover
The other is a cordless
In an English plain it would never see the ocean crash against the rock.
Unanchored and unorthodox it cannot handle the beat box

These microphones watch too much television
That’s why I need to stand and sing against the library of the wind
To carry my voice over the drums and the crowd
Like a Hummingbird that hums aloud to pay his rent
Against my better judgment, I have let money drive my car
Left with the scar of a fatal accident, bent out of shape bad, scraped bad
Bent and smoking on the side of the highway while I vent

In a town where they use your name to fill a bar room
Music usually means less than beer
But it was a musician, who first said,
Let’s just play it by ear
If I die today, bury me on Highway 16
In between the split city of many seasons church and rocky’s garage

I devote the sons of the splash, to the clouds of cock’s back
Along with the…cold, which the weather to bury the dead

but sing This land is your land, this land is my land
but rewrite the words to say what needs to be said
And if you can’t make it to my final highway rest stop
Stick a harmonica out the window of a vehicle moving at high speed,
This go slow read is when you hear the wind

2:14 Harmonica until 3:04

Now with sweaty palms I answer the sub
Just like the sadness and disappointment in the waitress and patrons eyes
That came that night in to the bar to be inspired
If I said I’m perspiring it means they leave empty handed
To be candid this is an apology in the form of an unsung telegram
I’m sorry sometimes I watch too much TV and let the swing door slam
But one day the world is going to turn all fast chains in to second hand book stores
And the world will be well read
But in the valley of the dead, you can’t hold your breath before death
I’m going to be a literary obscene green lizard with my tail curled up like a garden hose
Between my teeth a wild rose,
A gray dawn, I drop a crayon and I draw it back
And I let water colors run and I smear it with beads of sweat
Behind a cigarette in the garden of good and evil, this is hobo erotic hip-hop
Let our bodies work be more diverse than the vinyl in a new and used record shop
Into the barroom floats a mischievous breeze and I’m flipping through a
Flipping through a dime store paperback novel
Leaning against the jukebox
That reads "like the fox I run with the hunted
And though I may not be the happiest man in the world,
I’m surely the luckiest man alive"
In this cherry blossom graveyard, renewing my vows
Following a northern star
The wind is a speed reader
Before the rain came
But regardless, the song remains the same

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