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Music That Speaks to Me, #5

In 1965--the year I graduated from high school--the Turtles released their cover of P.F. Sloan's "Let Me Be," which became a huge hit. The first time I heard it, I knew it was my anthem. It seemed I had spent my whole life trying to be me, mostly succeeding, but having to deal with the consequences.

https://youtu.be/jGjKXJOHhFs

Please don't mistake me or try to make me
The shadow of anybody else
I ain't the him or her you think I am
I'm just trying hard to be myself
Oh, society's goal is to be part of the whole
That may sound good to you, not to me

Let me be, let me be
To think like I want to
Let me be, let me be
That's all I ask of you
I am what I am and that's all I ever can be

Don't try to plan me or understand me
I can't stand to be understood
I could never give in to or ever live up to
Being like you think I should
I've got some inner need which I'm tryin' to heed
I can't take hand me down destiny

Let me be, let me be,
To think like I want to
Let me be, let me be
That's all I ask of you
I am what I am and that's all I ever can be

Don't try to change me or rearrange me
To satisfy the selfishness in you
I'm not a piece of clay to mold to your moods each day
And I'm not a pawn to be told how to move
I'm sorry I'm not the fool you thought would play by your rules
But to each his own philosophy

Let me be, let me be,
To think like I want to
Let me be, let me be
That's all I ask of you
I am what I am and that's all I ever can be

*******

It's no surprise that P.F. Sloan also wrote my favorite antiwar song, "Eve of Destruction," made popular in Barry McGuire's version, also 1965.

https://youtu.be/qfZVu0alU0I

The eastern world it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill but not for votin'
You don't believe in war but whats that gun you're totin'?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you boy

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Yeah my blood's so mad feels like coagulating
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth it knows no regulation
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it's the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace

And tell me
Over and over and over and over again my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction
Mmm, no, no, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

*******

And here we are, 50 years later, same story.

Forty years ago

The fall of Saigon. Finally, it was over.

I can't even remember that day. I remember seeing the pictures on the news and in the papers, but I don't remember a thing about where I was or what I was doing.

I first became really conscious of the war in Vietnam, I think, sometime in 1963, when I was 15, turning 16 in May. When Saigon fell, I was almost 28. The war was in the background, and occasionally the foreground, throughout nearly half my teens and most of my twenties.

I did the last half of high school, graduated, went to college, lost the person I thought would be the love of my life, got a job, testified at my parents' divorce hearing (a divorce that was never finalized), quit college, got married, changed careers and went into accounting (the field I would work in till about 1980), moved to L.A., moved to Minnesota, bought a house, became an aunt twice, and the war went on.

JFK was assassinated, and MLK Jr., and Bobby Kennedy; Nixon resigned, the only U.S. president ever to do so. I worked on Eugene McCarthy's and George McGovern's campaigns, and began my streak of never voting for a presidential candidate who won (broken by Clinton). American soldiers killed civilians at My Lai and at Kent State. I stopped trusting my government. And the war went on.

I went from being an observant Catholic schoolgirl to being a nontheistic adult. I learned to drive, finally, at 25. Music went from surf music to disco, but my favorites were country and protest. The war went on.

My cousin's husband was killed in action, leaving her with four young children. My brother went to Vietnam and returned, leaving something of himself there. My closest male friend went to Vietnam and returned, having found something of himself there. The first boy I had ever kissed went to Vietnam and returned, had some bad years but has came out the other side. Another good friend went to Vietnam and returned, but has never come out of the darkness. Others, friends, relatives, neighbors, went, and most returned, all changed forever. The war went on.

I opposed the war from the time I first learned anything substantial about it. I gave up financial support from my father for college because I wouldn't "change my thinking." I wore my Another Mother for Peace medallion ("War is not healthy for children and other living things") while I wrote supportive letters and sent "care" packages to the guys I knew who were in Vietnam. The war went on.

The war in Vietnam was the background to all those years. There was never a single day that I didn't think about it in some way. Much of my teens, most of my young adult years. The war went on and on and on.

And I can't really remember the day it ended.

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From now on...

ALL my LJ posts will be friends-locked. This is the last public post. If I want my Facebook friends to read something, I will reprint it there.

Music That Speaks to Me, #3

The theme of people who fall in love when the timing is wrong--for whatever reason, especially including a difference in ages--has long haunted me. Here are two songs, one from my youth and one from my daughter's (she introduced it to me), on this theme.

https://youtu.be/z4ZipKdI1sY

Say goodbye, my own true lover
As we sing a lover's song
How it breaks my heart to leave you
Now the carnival is gone
High above, the dawn is waking
And my tears are falling rain
For the carnival is over
We may never meet again
Like a drum, my heart was beating
And your kiss was sweet as wine
But the joys of love are fleeting
For Pierrot and Columbine
Now the harbor light is calling
This will be our last goodbye
Though the carnival is over
I will love you till I die
Like a drum, my heart was beating
And your kiss was sweet as wine
But the joys of love are fleeting
For Pierrot and Columbine
Now the harbor light is calling
This will be our last goodbye
Though the carnival is over
I will love you till I die


https://youtu.be/ABATYs1JB-k

Since the beginning of time
Since it started to rain
Since I heard your laugh
Since I felt your pain

I was too young, you were much younger
We were afraid of each other's hunger

I have always loved you
There's never been anyone else
I knew you before I knew myself, oh my baby
I have always loved you

Since we kissed the first time
Since we slept on the beach
You were too close for comfort
You were too far out of reach

You walked away, I should have held you
But would you have stayed for me to tell you?

I have always loved you
There's never been anyone else
I knew you before I knew myself, oh my baby

I have always loved you
The years go by in a matter of days
And though we go our separate ways
I never stop dreamin' of you
I have always loved you

When you call, it makes me cry
We never made time for you and I
If I could live it all again
I'd never let it end, I'd still be with you
Oh God, I miss you

I have always loved you
I knew you before I knew myself, oh my baby

I have always loved you
The years go by in a matter of days
And though we go our separate ways
I never stop dreamin' of you
I have always loved you

Music That Speaks to Me #2

Dolly Parton is just a bit over a year older than I am, so it isn't odd that some of the same music would be meaningful to both of us. This past Christmas, I received this CD:
dolly

Eleven of the twelve songs on this album have special meaning to me. The exception is Yusuf Islam's (Cat Stevens) "Where Do the Children Play?" which I don't remember. I think I had the cassette of Tea for the Tillerman, and the song would have reflected my own concerns, so it's strange, but I have no recollection of it. I'm putting these in chronological order of my acquaintance with them.

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone": I first learned this one from the Kingston Trio, on my very first folk music album. There are so many versions of this, but what's better than Joan Baez? "When will they/we ever learn?" https://youtu.be/cDZ8BN0ZfvU

"Blowin' in the Wind." It was on the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan released the month of my 16th birthday. Bob Dylan was my real introduction to the idea that music can say something about the world, about the human condition--something beyond the personal. This song said so much of what I was wondering about the world, our country, the people--especially the adults--around me. https://youtu.be/vWwgrjjIMXA

"The Cruel War": I'm not sure when I got the album, but my growing antiwar feeling--and the knowledge that my brother, my cousins, my dear male friends might well be drafted into the horror in Vietnam--took this to heart when i got the Peter, Paul, and Mary album. https://youtu.be/iwuMW2MYFBM

"Twelfth of Never" was THE slow song I liked for dancing with my high school boyfriend. I felt that way. He didn't. https://youtu.be/nNNRGa3pKyw

I graduated from high school in 1965, when the Byrds sang "Turn, Turn, Turn." Combine the Bible with Pete Seeger and there's a lot of wisdom! "A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!" I am still hoping...
     This was the year my father told me that if I didn't change my thinking, he wouldn't pay for college. Anyone who knew the two of us could have predicted how that would turn out. https://youtu.be/W4ga_M5Zdn4

"Both Sides Now" (Judy Collins version): 1967, the year I got married the first time. It was certain lines of this that resonated with me: "Som many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way"; "Something's lost but something's gained in living every day." https://youtu.be/A7Xm30heHms

"Those Were the Days": I remember it by the Limelighters earlier in the 1960s, but the big hit was by Mary Hopkin in 1968. Then I was 21, and I certainly couldn't relate to the lyrics as I can today, But I loved the tune, the rhythm, and in those days when I thought my generation would change the world for the better, I still had a fear that there was truth in the lyrics. https://youtu.be/2O5EeBjxhiY

"Crimson and Clover" was released in 1968. I had been married a year and already had an occasional thought that I had made a mistake. This song prompted such an occasional thought. https://youtu.be/GpGEeneO-t0

I was listening to, and buying albums by, both Gordon Lightfoot and Kris Kristofferson in 1970, so I don't know which of them I first heard sing "Me and Bobby McGee." But it was Janis Joplin's version (released in 1971, after her death) that really grabbed me. I can't find a video I like, but heck, you know the song. I moved to Minnesota that year with my then-husband, leaving behind everything else that I cared about: my parents and brothers, sister-in-law and nephew and many cousins, my long-time friends, newer friends sharing a hobby I loved, the ocean, the desert... everything. See previous paragraph.

"Imagine": I was never much of a Beatles nor a Lennon fan, but when I first heard this I had already lost any belief in heaven and hell and religion, and I could imagine all the things he sang about. I still can, but it gets harder all the time. https://youtu.be/DVg2EJvvlF8

"If I Were a Carpenter": no one needs a reason for Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. https://youtu.be/tCBiQcdTR8A


An idea new to me, on terrorism

I was listening to MPR this morning, and they were talking about the video threat against U.S. and Canadian malls by al-Shabaab. For anyone who doesn't know: al-Shabaab is a Somali terrorist group, and Minneapolis has a large Somali community (who have vociferously condemned the video).

A spokesperson from the Somali community said something that I don't recall ever having read/heard before, which I'm sure is my lack, because once heard, it seems so obvious that others must have talked about it. It is this: Terrorists have at least two reasons for their actions: (1) the obvious, to terrorize potential targets; but (2) is the one new to me: to cause the larger society to suspect and fear and hate and practice bias against people in the community who have the same background as the terrorists, which makes these people feel alone and oppressed and drives them into the ranks of the terrorists.

So it isn't just that we shouldn't let the terrorists make us suspect, even hate, innocent neighbors--it's that the terrorists WANT us to do exactly that. It isn't just by becoming fearful that we allow the terrorists to succeed; it's by turning against innocent people so that the terrorists seem to be the only people they "belong" with.

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Music That Speaks to Me, #1

In straightening up my desk area yesterday, I ran across my folder of poetry I wrote when I was a teenager. I had pretty good teenage years, overall. But oh! the angst! When I read the poems, though, I can remember just what I felt then. They weren't very good poems--some were quite bad!--but they certainly captured how I felt.

Music, though, is still more powerful in bringing back memories and feelings. This song came along at just the right time in my life, a few months after the guy I thought was the love of my life broke my heart. I was 19.
http://youtu.be/K84klO4l2_8
Red Rubber Ball

I should have known you'd bid me farewell
There's a lesson to be learned from this and I learned it very well
Now I know you're not the only starfish in the sea
If I never hear your name again, it's all the same to me

And I think it's gonna be all right
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

You never care for secrets I confide
For you I'm just an ornament, somethin' for your pride
Always runnin', never carin', that's the life you live
Stolen minutes of your time were all ya had to give

And I think it's gonna be all right
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball

The story's in the past with nothin' to recall
I've got my life to live and I don't need you at all
The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end
I bought my ticket with my tears, that's all I'm gonna spend

Oh, oh, oh
I think it's gonna be all right
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball
*************

Almost every line of it reflected the relationship we had, but especially "Stolen minutes of your time were all ya had to give." I deserved more, but as I have so often told my daughter, the heart wants what it wants. The worst part was that I had turned my back on someone else, who treated me just the opposite, to stay with this guy.

But when this song became popular, I was ready for it. I had my life to live.

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Carol Kennedy

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