Posts Tagged ‘Rolling Stones’

What’s it about this time?

Good morning all. It’s the return of Rambler5319 for his Wednesday guest post. Enjoy!

I was thinking again about LLM’s post last Sunday and a few of the replies. Time is one of those things we can’t stop happening. It’s also one of those things that people seem to try not to think about too much: the fact that it’s getting less every day we’re alive. There are plenty of analogies about life being a never ending circle. Now it is really only never-ending when we speak about it in general terms: people and animals are always being born whilst others are dying so there is a cycle of life and death. However for us as individuals time is linear: it is a straight line from conception to last breath. Try as we may we can’t stop it. We can try and stop ourselves displaying the signs of aging by maybe dressing in a younger way, maybe talking younger and so on but no matter what we do we are the age we are. We can try and fool ourselves but if you’ve lived for 20/30/40/50 or however many years – you are that old.

Many singers have touched on the subject of time. A number of hit records have covered the idea of it and what it means to us. (Apologies for the selection as apart from one the rest are all from my own collection and also the number of vid clips.)

There is no such place as Tír na nÓg (The Land of Eternal Youth)! No matter how many times Van Morrison, on his album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher tells us we can walk there – WE CAN’T. Likewise Xanadu, Valhalla & Nirvana all sound great – but real? NO. They make a good subject for a song; remember Olivia Newton-John (& ELO) topped the UK charts in 1980 singing about Xanadu. I think the expression is “In your dreams” and that’s where they’ll stay. Nice diversion for 3 minutes but if you and I can’t go there don’t spend too much time looking for & thinking about them.

In 1969 Joni Mitchell wrote the song which became the theme for the Woodstock Festival. It was just called Woodstock & covered by a number of other artists including one by Matthews Southern Comfort who topped the UK charts with their version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyTUF5gP2KE

(Check out the two nuns walking past the camera.)

In one verse Mitchell wrote that she didn’t know who she was but that life is for learning. In 1970 she sang about us being “captive the carousel of time” on her Ladies of the Canyon album; but we’re not are we? We’re not on a merry-go-round, we’re on a train and at some point we will have to get off. We can’t take any luggage with us but those still on the train will open our cases and divide up the things we had with us! Others will stay on because they’re not getting off at the same place.

Eva Cassidy (sadly no longer with us), along with many others, sang about life being like getting on a train. Here’s the clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8W9rPxxnP4

A 25 year old Paul McCartney, on The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album (1967), famously sang about when he would be older losing his hair. He asked would he still be needed when he got to 64.

Booker T. & the MGs recorded an instrumental called Time is Tight on Stax Records. It made no.4 in the UK charts back in 1969. Here’s a live vid:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbBcXvKvB08

In 1964 The Rolling Stones sang Time Is On My Side but of course ultimately it isn’t is it? At some point you might not have much to do so time seems to go slowly. It does that when you’re looking forward to something you say you can’t wait for doesn’t it?

(In 1990 Kim Wilde had a song called “Time” and she sang about something so good it was worth waiting for.) Sometimes you just want time to go quicker so you can have that something without having to go through the waiting period. (If we want things we can’t afford we don’t wait till we have enough money, we borrow the money and pay it back later; you can’t do that with time.)

I suppose one of the best songs about time is the one by Pink Floyd on their 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon just called Time. Sales of Dark Side of the Moon, since its release 40 years ago, are estimated at 50 million (just over 1 million per year)! In the US it is the top selling album of all time (excluding compilations) with 15 platinum discs (meaning certified total of 15 million sales, although it is believed the real figure is much higher). Curiously it held the no.1 spot for just 1 week but stayed in the charts for 741 weeks including 591 consecutive weeks. (Now divide that by 52, and what do you get? Yep that’s right just over 11 continuous years! And all together 14 years in the US album charts, WOW!). Incidentally Booker T (mentioned above) also had an influence on one the Dark Side tracks.

If you’ve got 6/7 mins have a watch of the video. (The intro is quite long so if you don’t fancy it all wind forward to 2 mins and the singing starts at 2.20)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtvC8a3BRlQ

And, if you can, open another tab then window and put the lyrics alongside the vid.

Here are the lyrics:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/time.html

Great song that encapsulates lots of those ideas associated with time and its passing.

So there you have it a brief meditation on the subject of time from my record collection. If you’re still alive – congratulations, you’ve just aged another 5 minutes! And remember that Philosopher’s Stone is no nearer.

And do you see what I did with the title of this post?

Freedom Music

It’s part two of my regular guest blogger’s thoughts on ‘freedom.’

Popular music, through the last five decades or so, has, in certain ways, reflected what the young see as their desire for and, in some ways, their definition of freedom. It will only be possible to take a few examples as there are so many songs could fall into this category. I hope they will illustrate the point.
In 1965 the Rolling Stones recorded a song I’m Free To Do What I Want. The lyrics also tell of being free to get what “I want”. In other words it’s actually talking about probably the most selfish sort of freedom you can imagine: the freedom to do, get or possess whatever you want. The song makes no reference to any effect on anyone else. From the writer’s point of view I don’t think he has even given that any thought. What’s behind the words then? I think simply a rebellion of youth against what it saw, in those days, as the rules or way of life of the older generation. Is that the freedom you’re seeking – to choose to do & to get what you want?
Are you attracted by that archetypal image of the apparently free-roaming hobo riding the freight trains across America taking him wherever they’re going? Or the “southbound odyssey” of Steve Goodman’s song The City Of New Orleans, (recorded by Arlo Guthrie on his album Hobo’s Lullaby, & by a number of other singers).
Perhaps the Easy Rider type of journey appeals – on your motorbike, travelling free. The 1969 film is described in its Wikipedia entry as “the story of two bikers….who travel through the American South-West and South with the aim of asserting their freedom”. The song The Ballad of Easy Rider contains the aspirational phrase, “all they wanted was to be free”. The film certainly kicks off with a great travelling anthem as the opening credits roll (btw some 7 minutes into the film!): “Get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes our way”. Towards the end, after they’ve made their money (illegally, remember), they’re sat round the camp fire talking. Billy (Dennis Hopper) is rejoicing – “you go for the big money and you’re free”; Wyatt (Peter Fonda) says they blew it. Presumably, to him, they didn’t have the sort of freedom he thought they would.
Van Morrison has a song called You Make Me Feel So Free speaking of how another person can give you a sense of freedom. From his mid-eighties album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, one song speaks of going to a town called Paradise “where we can be free”.
Some years later, Oasis spoke of freedom in their 1994 song Whatever (I’m Free). They wanted the freedom to say whatever they liked. Worryingly, they go further by not caring if it’s wrong or if it’s right! Fellow blogger, therabbitholez, made a comment on last Weds’ Freedom Rules piece which I agree with. If you have a look at that, I hope you can see there’s more to freedom than just the “I want” part which Oasis focus on. The B-side of that record, (It’s Good) To Be Free speaks of it being good to be free in the context of living where they want. Of course for those living under oppressive regimes the choice to live where they want is not an option. Popstars have enough money to be able to make the choices which make them happy. Others, less well off, don’t.
In case you think it’s only modern(-ish) songs that take this a theme – it isn’t. There is, for example, a 1933 Jimmy Rodgers song (also recorded by a number of others) called I’m Free From The Chain Gang Now. It has these words, by an innocent man, in one of the verses:
“Back home, I was known and respected then one day I was wrongly suspected,
So they put me in chains in a cold freezin’ rain but I’m free from the chain gang now.”
Much further back in history, there are examples of songs written in the 18th C about freedom & liberty. Some of those include a call to men to lay their lives down for the cause of freedom. Have a think on the last verse of American Hero (by Andrew Law, 1748-1821):
“Life, for my country and the cause of freedom,
Is but a trifle for a worm to part with;
And if preserved in so great a contest,
Life is redoubled.”
Of course there are many other songs referring to the freedom from oppression sought by people in various nations, not just the USA. Also, the verse above could apply equally to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars of the last century so that succeeding generations could be free from the control of a tyrannical invading power.
In Freedom Rules, I gave the 4 types of freedom specified by Roosevelt which, he said, should exist for everyone around the world. Gary McGrath at mcgrath.com/freesongs puts it this way:
“Freedom is the absence of forcible constraint on actions which do not violate the rights of others.”
Another good definition. It highlights what I think most people believe – that an individual’s freedom must incorporate an acceptance by that individual of responsibilities to the wider society. Our societies today focus very much on personal rights but not so much on those personal responsibilities. I wonder why?
The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with these words: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world..” Article 1, of the same document, opens with “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
I think that enshrines much of what we would like to go into a definition of freedom. However, when we look at the record of some countries, within the UN, who’ve signed up to this there’s a big question – how, in reality, can it be enforced? And will it ever be?