Thursday, January 14, 2016

Both Sides

Since the recent passing of David Bowie, I've read a half dozen articles on how this avant grade icon has formed the sound track for many people's lives.  Bowie, warts and all, has given thousands of folks the courage to be who they are.  No wonder his music, eclectic as it is, contains so much emotional involvement for his fans.  The great German philosopher Schopenhauer postulated that music, above everything else penetrates directly to the soul.  Soul, as you know is a popular genre of music in it's own right.  Said Schopenhauer, "The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence."
But just as Bowie's followers are reliving some of the most significant junctures and experiences of their lives this week, I think that everyone, of every generation has an icon or two that serves the same function.
This morning during my gym workout I switched Pandora stations from blues to Buffy St. Marie.  My motive was too hopefully hear some of her music to see if a student teacher I'm working with might be able to use some song lyrics as poetry for a unit on Native American culture.  As with all Pandora stations, I heard a bit of Buffy's music but a bit more of similar artists.  I suppose the good folks at Pandora who make the music decisions think that to listen to Buffy is to listen to artists at their prime in the late 60s.  They paired her with Dylan, Neil Young, and Emmy Lou Harris for the most part.

Then came a song that almost stopped me in my tracts, or should I say stopped my elliptical machine:
The Weight, by The Band.  Immediately memories flooded my brain.  I was taken back to the summer of 1970 and driving across the country, coast to coast, literally, in a VW van with a group of like-minded wanderers searching not only for America, but our own identities along the way.  When I listen to the lyrics today the meaning takes on so much more than it originally did.  Lots of life lived will do that and the perspective that age gives sharpens the focus about as sharp as it can get.  When the song ended, I began to think of Bowie's music and the role it played for his fan base and wonder how they feel when they hear it after his death.  That reflection was quickly ended by the beginning of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and like the turning of the wheel on the machine under my feet, the process began again and again.

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