Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What comes before.

 Some songs stay with me through this life. 

Gladys Knight and The Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The first note Gladys hits and I’m on that train. The lyrics of Hank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry” I can hear the birds and the insects on a summer’s night in the south. The sky turning purple and the stars coming out. A train off in the distance and wondering where is it going. Long lost loves and youth.

Songs take me back to certain periods of my youth…Warm smell of Callitas “Hotel Califorinia” certainly brings the smell of a certain plant to mind on a crazy night or several from my misspent youth.

The Wild and Rainy Night from “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles brings back a certain memory to me.

So even though I’m not one of those people who constantly listen to music. I am one of those people who are part of the pop music rock and roll generation. Many of my memories are tied to music and certain lyrics can bring back my 16th or 18th, 19th or other early years.

I was thinking of a song that isn’t a widely known song and it was one I discovered somewhere right before I turned 25 years old. Actually, it was right about the time my spiritual journey was considering different options and truths from my previous strict Christian upbringing in the (cue deep narrator voice here) The Deep South. I don’t know why but some national broadcasters who have probably never been south of Nashville love to say it that way. The Deep South! Do ya hear it? Oh well, I digress.

Anyway, Stevie Nicks from a solo album released around 1981 called Bella Donna recorded a very nice acoustic laden song called “The Highway man.” It wasn’t a top ten or chart soaring song. I never hear it mentioned in the same breath as her old Fleetwood Mac work or her later duets with male singers including Don Henley. But, I think it’s one of the best she’s ever done.  Now, I don’t pretend that I know what Stevie Nicks was thinking when she wrote the lyrics. I googled it and it does appear that she wrote the lyrics herself. So, I’ll put my own slant or the meaning I’ve most often put on the lyrics myself. Just for fun and also just as my own thought experiment. This is the best I can remember from all those years ago as far as the way I was thinking and why the song stayed with me.




Alas he was the highwayman
The one who comes and goes
And only the highway-woman
keeps up with the likes of those
And she in all her magic
With hands as quick as light
Took him to be a challange
And went into the night


Stevie as some people around my age might remember was rumored (falsely as far as I’ve been able to find out) to be a “White Witch.” So magic and having magic in her hands and person fit my image of her and of the feminine back then. The highwayman was the eternal male searching and maybe not always finding his soul mate.

And he in all his glory
Was far ahead of her
But she was never sorry
For wishes that would burn
Enter compitition
She chases beneath the moon
Her horse is like a dragonfly
She is just a fool


But, the female is wiser and more compassionate. More in control of her emotions. She knows it’s an eternal dance and not going to be solved in one lifetime. But, still she keeps on.  I could see the full moon and the eternal dance as youth and desire collided with realism and physical limitations.

And she wonders is this real
Or does she just want to be queen
And he fights the way he feels
Is this the end of a dream


I’ve often thought of Christ in the garden. Not the Sunday school version. But, the human version. Is this real? Am I just fooling myself? What is life and what if anything really comes after? The human condition. We know we are meant for eternity. But, we just can’t quite really believe it.

And then he sees her coming
Heartbeats on the wind
Considers slowing down
But then he could never win
And she out in the distance
Sees him against the sky
A pale and violent rider
A dream begun in wine


So there  they are. Two people, two souls running through another part of the eternal journey.  It’s always night time in my visions of this song. Always a full moon and a sky full of stars. Warm wind blowing and white horses running.

And she wonders is this real
Or does she just want to be queen
And he fights the way he feels
Is this the end of a dream


She’s full of magic. But, like all sane beings she’s also full of doubt. He’s unsure of what this is. Maybe, it’s all just for fun or maybe it’s all terrible.

A dream as the thunder wakes her
And her highwayman disappears
On a life already lived before
In eyes welled with tears

That sense that this is an eternal dance. The wheel turns and the sense of having been somewhere before. Having already won or lost before.

Today and still today they ride
Will they ever win
He the glory...
She the love...
And still they try again
He the glory...
She the love...
And still they try again
He the glory...
She the love...
And still they... try... again...

Again, and again and again. Sometimes finding the thread but often times not. New wine into old wine skins and life goes on.