Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Back to my old habits. Up before 4:00 a.m., ready to face the day. The tune and lyrics to an old song were among my first thoughts this morning:

Well everybody’s heart needs a holiday, some time
And everyone of us needs to get away, some how
Some laughing light-hearted moods
Oh, sight seeing afternoons
And telling a joke or two
‘Cause everyday invites you to find your place in the sun

It’s time to find your place in the sun
Find your place
Find your place in the sun
Its time to find your place in the sun

Every so often, that music invades my head for a while. The song is “A Place in the Sun,” by the California soft rock group “Pablo Cruise.”

This morning, after the music took over my brain (with no help from outside sources; that is, I wasn’t listening to it or reading about it), I decided to explore when it was released. I assumed it was when I was still in high school, but I was wrong. It was released two years after I finished college. I finished my degree in December 1975 (I started the summer after high school and ripped through in 3.5 years); A Place in the Sun was released in February 1977. So, I would have already been working for Birkman & Associates and the Birkman-Mefferd Research Foundation by then.  The dates are a bit fuzzy; that was roughly 43 years ago, after all.

Those moments from 43 years ago began to coalesce, though, as I listened to other tunes from the album of the same name, songs like Whatcha Gonna Do, Raging Fire, and I Just Wanna Believe.  I suspect I still have that vinyl album, still neatly placed vertically on a bookcase. I haven’t owned a working turntable since I moved away from Chicago in 1989, but I still have a moderate-sized collection of records; maybe forty to sixty? Why I haven’t sold them or given them away is beyond me. I’m relatively sure every piece of music on them is available digitally now and the vinyl is just taking up space. That’s true of me, too, though, so I don’t want to be too quick to discard something old and essentially useless for fear of getting into a habit I wouldn’t have the option of breaking.

My sentimentality sent me exploring other music from 1977, songs that would have shaped me in ways that music seems to shape young people (usually earlier than it shaped me, I suppose). That was a year Fleetwood Mac was big and I loved their music: Dreams, Go Your Own Way, Rhiannon, Don’t Stop, You Make Lovin’ Fun.  I remember Don’t Stop being used during Bill Clinton’s celebration after winning the White House. It was a forward-looking anthem of hope that a new generation had taken charge of the country’s future. And now, here we are. Christ. We need to revive that anthem…like right now!

What I don’t recall, but what I read about Fleetwood Mac this morning, are the tales of infidelity and band infighting. Apparently, those issues were making tabloid headlines at the time (and, I gather, still are). I didn’t read the tabloids, I guess. The personal lives of rock stars have never held any particular appeal for me; it’s their music I want, not the drama entangling their lives.

Another song I recall from that period is Barracuda by Heart. I think it must have been mostly the rhythym I appreciated about the song; I remembered few of the lyrics and, when I searched them out this morning, they said nothing to me that made any real sense. I think that was true of a lot of the music I listened to. Another piece I listened to a lot and absolutely loved was a tune from considerably earlier, White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane. Google told me this morning that the tune was released in 1967 and first included on the Surrealistic Pillow album. It was just a few years ago that I learned a segment of the lyrics that I had never understood before: “tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has you given you the call.” I did understand most of the lyrics as a retelling of an experience with LSD or mushrooms or some such hallucinogenic.

I am sure I had a crush on Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Ann Wilson of Heart.  I was attracted to women who I assumed, because of the roles they played, were strong and unconventional and willing to confront and challenge traditional perceptions of women. I think that’s what attracted me, anyway.  Interesting that thinking of Pablo Cruise, an all-male band, led me to thinking about women rock stars this morning.

Before I leave music, I listened to another track from Surrealistic Pillow this morning that I do not recall hearing before: J.P.P. McStep B. Blues. It was written by Alexander Skip Spence, who I learned was the drummer (at least for a time) for Jefferson Airplane and who also was a singer/guitarist/songwriter for Moby Grape. I looked him up because I like the music; the lyrics for J.P.P. McStep B. Blues appeal to me.

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And what else is on my mind and my agenda today? Well, I am scheduled to go to Grove Park this morning to pick up an order of veggies from Ouachita Hills Farm: okra and radishes. Then, I have a little gathering of men in the parking lot of the church for pastries and conversation, then a Zoom conversation with other people who attended the UUA General Assembly, then a Sardicado Sandwich Gathering; I’ll write about that another time. It’s a busy morning, that’s a certainty.

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And, finally, this morning, I think I’ll work on shedding some weight (not physical, though that would be a welcome thing); some things that I have allowed to saddle me with emotional burdens that I’ve hidden reasonably well, though not always. Life is too short to permit stupid personal imperfections—mine or others’—to stand in the way of happiness. That’s sufficiently opaque to be impossible to understand for others, but it’s sufficient for me to get me through the day; by tomorrow, I’ll have forgotten what I meant by it and, when I read these words a year from now, I’ll wonder what in the hell I was blathering on about.

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You, who have stayed with me this far, are a treasure worth far more than gold.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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