Today I had a flashback of when I first heard Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Deja Vu. This little blast from the past occurred while I was listening to Terry Gross interview Graham Nash on the radio.
The memory is this: I was in Ironton, Ohio in the summer of 1971. Ironton is a small town on the Ohio River. I had finished freshman year at LSU, and was trying to make some money selling dictionaries door-to-door. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, because this Louisiana boy had ventured, for the first time, away from the flat, hot humid delta where I was raised, to make a few bucks in a hilly, backwoods industrial town where folks said "you-uns" instead of "y'all."
I was a pretty good salesman I guess but nothin to write home about. And to tell the truth I wasn't really into selling door to door, so maybe there was a little escapist streak deep inside of me that responded to the deep experience of hearing Deja Vu.
That music became an important part of my life. Now, fast forward 42 years or so.
Today, I heard Graham Nash telling Terri that Deja Vu was a "dark" album, as compared to the first CSNY that they had done before they recruited Neil Young.
That explains a lot. All four of those guys were having a hard time, dealing with major life-setbacks when they came together to record that music in 1971 after their initial successes.
So that Ohio flashback is the deja view memory that triggered this blog, but Graham's interview with Terri today was actually much more upbeat than the "dark" Deja Vu record album. For instance, a couple of Terry's song selections, chosen to prompt their fascinating exchange, were very beautiful love songs that Graham Nash et al had sung back in the day: Bus Stop, which Graham had recorded early-on with The Hollies, and the CSN Our House.
Both songs are very precious memories for me. And both songs represent the outcome of my life much better than the angsty existentialism of Deja Vu. Because, you see, in this life I chose love instead of a trippy pursuit of music and free love and all that bohemian blahblah, even though . . . even though I carry with me, as CSNY have, the curse of musicianship.
I'm happy for them that they could do such incredibly creative work in music. But I never would have been able to get through that minefield of distractions and temptations without going crazy, like, as Graham explains, Crosby almost did (go off the deep end.)
So I chose love instead--one woman, for 33 years, and three grown young'uns. I wouldn't take nothin for my journey now. We actually have a really Our House, which just got paid off last month, and the music schizo stuff--well, it has always been on the back burner.
Graham's old flame, Joni Mitchell, once sang "something's lost and something's gained in living every day."
The trade-offs we make as we go along--we don't know really know what they are until we look back on them. I traded a pursuit of the wild music scene and hippie love for true love and family life. This probably saved me a lot of pain and trouble.
"The sweetest thing I know of is spending time with you," is a line in an old John Denver Song. It expresses well how I feel about my wife, Pat, and our long married life together, and watching our kids grow up and go out and do their own thing. And I still feel for her that fresh, newly-hatched love that Graham was describing in Bus Stop.
What it was that kept me on track and faithful all this time was certainly not anything that I could muster. It was only by the grace of God. Thank you, Jesus.