Well I don’t want to drift forever
In the shadow of you leaving me
But I did, for a decade.
I was overstimulated. Interacting at the Forum, talking on the phone, out to a dinner party, and after watching an episode of “The Americans” I planned on reading my book, which I’m wholly into, “The Perfect Nanny,” by Leila Slimani, translated imperfectly from the French yet the feeling sustains, but it just didn’t resonate, the only thing that did was music, so I lay on the couch in the dark punching through the HQ songs on Deezer and everything was resonating, which was quite a surprise, because get wound tight enough and nothing does.
And I listened to an old Tears For Fears record, “Elemental,” which sounded surprisingly good, never underestimate the power of a guitar and a tune, and then I went with the Flow and heard “Happy Together” and read about all the covers and synchs and then for some reason I needed to hear Little Feat.
Now oftentimes when I get this urge, I pull up Bonnie Raitt’s “I Feel The Same,” with Lowell’s magic infecting the track, or maybe even James Taylor’s “Angry Blues” where Lowell is subtle, but provides the essence, but tonight I wanted the real thing, so I went to the artistic breakthrough, “Dixie Chicken” and…
It sounded so good.
And I started to wonder if this sound would come back, if enough time had passed for there to be a rock renaissance, for a younger generation to get hooked on the lost sound and mutate it into something new like the English rockers did with the bluesmeisters, after all, this is what Greta Van Fleet is doing with Led Zeppelin.
And I’m thinking about Lowell George, how he died at 34 and missed so much, the fat man in the bathtub walked the edge and then fell off, it takes a lot to kill a man, but mix a cocktail of the wrong stuff and you can die overnight, makes me wonder, do you know, like Steve Jobs saying “Oh wow, oh wow!” before passing or do you go to bed thinking about what you have to do tomorrow and then…PPFFFT, it’s all over?
I don’t want to go that way, I want to see the end, like in a movie, the climax, maybe I’ll be disappointed, maybe I’ll be fulfilled, but I want to know.
And the problem with listening to music in the dark long after dark is you can’t turn it off, you’re alone, but you’re in a cocoon, just you and the music, this how I got through after the breakup with F., after law school, with a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream I’d lie on the floor all night with the headphones on blasting, and then maybe inspired start making phone calls to the east coast when the sun came up, freaking the recipients out.
But by time K. disappeared, I was no longer drinking. But I still listened, I’ve always been listening, it’s the only thing that roots me, on one hand I’m a loner, but with the right tunes in my ear I’m no longer flying solo.
All the people that you can’t recall
Do they really exist at all
Like all those faces from the two years in Utah. I didn’t fit in, other than my love for skiing. I’d already graduated from college, I hadn’t dropped out, and when I flew through the bumps I sang a song, not to myself, but everybody, and friends picked it up and started singing it too, even though they’d never heard it, it’s from Little Feat’s second album, “Sailin’ Shoes,” the title cut of which Robert Palmer covered so well, the song is entitled “Easy To Slip.”
It’s so easy to slip
It’s so easy to fall
Like Lowell, I was riding the edge, the bumps had changed, you used to be able to ski through the troughs, now you bounced off the tops, truly, it was a skill to be achieved, to execute, miss a turn and it might not be death, but a serious fall, maybe injury.
And let your memory drift
And do nothin’ at all
Maybe it’s not only me, maybe it’s my entire generation, the baby boomers. We were on a fast track to nowhere, it was all about experience, not all of which took place off the couch, you’d fire up the stereo, maybe fire up a doobie, let the sound wash over you and think, HOW DID I GET HERE?
That’s the riddle of my life. This is not what I contemplated, this is not what my parents foresaw, and I’m not exactly complaining, just wondering, what was it that put me on this course?
Maybe growing up in the suburbs in a Jewish family, being a middle child, going to Middlebury because I loved to ski, getting into my first long term relationship with the help of my shrink, then meeting the person who was convinced I was the one.
And then was convinced I wasn’t.
That’s how it happened, just not that smoothly, took years. But there was a very quick denouement, I was totally surprised.
So I light another cigarette
And try to remember to forget
But you can’t. The memory fades, but still lingers.
And it was exacerbated by her desire not to get a divorce, which crossed with my perseverance was a bad combination, I only give up when the game is over, when my marbles are taken away, they talk about learning from failure, pivoting, I just stay the course until the path ends, when there’s no more trail, and then I’m broke down and busted on the side of the road wondering where to go and what to do next.
It’s so easy to slip
It’s so easy to fall
Your parents are right. One bad move, one bad choice, and you can mess up your whole life.
Then again, at this late date, I’m convinced everybody loses ten years along the way, when things don’t work out, and if you haven’t had them yet, they’re coming.
And the funny thing about “Easy To Slip” is it’s an upbeat song, in sound anyway. Maybe that’s the essence of being a musician, of being a bluesman, despite what surrounds you you find joy in playing, most of the musicians of this era picked up their instruments BEFORE the Beatles, it wasn’t about the riches and the fame so much as the music.
Which ruled the world.
And everybody wants to rule the world.
Until you realize that’s a fool’s errand. Until you realize we’re all just grist for the mill, passing through.
That’s one of the bad things about aging, the memories, they haunt you, they prevent you from marching forward.
Then again, they provide a tapestry of feeling, baked into this song are all the times I sang it hiking the waterfall by Route 100, banging the bumps on Wilbere Ridge…
Well my whole world seems so cold today
All the magic’s gone away
And our time together melts away
Like the sad melody I play
And the irony is today was so warm, just like the melody in “Easy To Slip” is not sad, it’s a conundrum, but nonetheless I got overwhelmed and the only thing that could root me was a record, just when I doubted the power of one. And I slipped down into the rabbit hole of memory and my life was there in relief, the good and the bad, and her.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what “Easy To Slip” is about, what it means, what inspired Lowell George to write it.
And I’m still trying to figure out my life.