Saturday, August 27, 2011

Harpo's Blues


  Phoebe Snow is singing to me these days.  There is something so poignant in her voice and in her music.  Perhaps her poignancy reflects the years in which she first entered my life.  That would have been the mid- seventies.  I was navigating my way through early adulthood, learning more than I ever knew I wanted to know.  Her tender words and lyrical voice allowed me reach into myself and feel, at times, painfully alive

There is a vulnerability about much of Phoebe's music which still resonates with me.  Can you hear this?

            I wish I was a willow
            And I could sway to the music in the wind
            And I wish I was a lover
            I wouldn't need my costumes and pretend

     I've written before about masks and pretending, about being what I am supposed to be as opposed to being who I might really be.  Emphasis on might...... can't say as I know right now.  Odd, isn't it, that a person can get to be in her sixth decade of life and still not know herself.  But, even as I write that, I think that that is because who she is now is not the same as who she was five, four, or even one decade ago.

     Listen to this part:
           I wish I was a mountain
           I'd pass boldly through the clouds and never end
           I wish I was a soft refrain
           When the lights were out I'd play
           and be your friend

      Such confidence there!  That seems the opposite of the vulnerability about which Phoebe sings.  To be as strong and powerful as a mountain, pushing away clouds and being a focus of the landscape, to have such presence and know that you are seen.  And there is the confidence inherent in a solid friendship, where you know that your friend wants you.  It's as if she is sure that this person will always see her, always be a part of her.

      What I hear in my head these days is this part of the song:

          I strut and fret my hour upon the stage
          The hour is up
          I have to run and hide my rage
          I'm lost again
          I think I'm really scared
          I won't be back at all this time
          And have my deepest secrets shared

     The hour is up.  There is so much in those four words.  I am a passenger on the time train (we are all passengers on the time train).  It only goes one direction and there is no slowing that train down, no reversing it, no controlling it.   It rolls across my life's landscape at a steady speed and I can watch out the window or mingle with the other passengers.  I can sleep but I certainly can't be the engineer of the train.  Not my department.

     I'm lost again.  Powerful three words.  At least I know I'm lost.  And, lately, I am liking being lost.  It feels like an adventure.  I am really scared, for sure, but somehow I am believing that I will figure it out.  I am not sure about much of anything right now.  I am eager, however,  to find out where the time train is going.



  1. The first of many things that rockets out at me is the inexplicable "I certainly can't be the engineer of the train." Now I understand that you can't control the passage of "time," but do you not have control over your little "chunk" of time, that which began September tenth, whatever year, until you're pushing up daisies? (How's that for a classic euphemism?) Do you not control how you utilize that time, thus becoming engineer of that particular car?
    The second thing is a train is on a track, so getting lost, though possible, allows you to get back "on track" more readily than you might think possible. Thirdly, your hour ain't up till the phat lady sings.

  2. I mean that I can't control the passage of time - she comes, she goes - we are born, we die. Yes, I can most definitely control how I use time (most of the time). I can make decisions that guide the engineer maybe but that engineer is not stopping the time train for anyone. Occasionally the undertaker throws someone off the train but that does not stop the engineer.
    Yes, the train is on a track! Hmmmm - I wonder what makes up the track? and the phat lady will sing someday so I want all the ride I can get until then! I love you.

  3. Poetry Man was always my favorite...
    Sad sad song...
    Poignant though

  4. Talk to me some more
    You don't have to go
    You're the Poetry Man
    You make things all right

  5. But...
    You're going home...

  6. Home's that place you go somewhere each day to see your wife....