Friday, October 19, 2018
Change Is Gonna Come
Some wise person said a fish wouldn’t know (s)he was out of water until it actually happened. When the angler yanked the critter up the into air, the fish would immediately know that something had gone terribly wrong.
I think our situation in modern life is a little bit like that. In our present media-engulfed life, we humans are so totally immersed in electronic media that we would feel disoriented and panicky if we were suddenly jerked out of it—like a fish out of water.
Some might even suffer withdrawals.
Nowadays some social critics among us complain about the dumming-down effects of twitter and facebook, and all that other blahblah googlifief also-ran flimflam that’s floating around in the datafied air of 2018.
Back in the day, during the adolescent phases of my baby boomer generation, people romanticized about the fact that we were the first generation to get raised up with a tv in the living room and therefore a boob-tube mindset. Whoopdee doo that we had pop-culture and instant gratification on the brain instead of the traditional 1-2-3 and a-b-c worldview of previous generations. No wonder we fantasized that we could change the world. We were walking around in the first-ever TV-generated dream world.
Actually, some of us did change the world. Those guys who were mastering their calculus and fortran instead of doping up—they managed to hatch out a totally electronic data tsunami that has since commandeered our attention and maximized our compulsive fascination with constant entertainment distractions and rampant twitt-faced narcissism.
Along with some real information, of course. There's always both bad and good in any changes that are gonna come.
A generation before us in the timeline, it was another set of emergent media wonders that were transforming the world of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Our parents’ generation also grew up with a revolutionary media box in the living room and the dashboard—radio. They had Roosevelt’s fireside chats, Glenn Miller, Amos n’ Andy, and Orson Wells’ terribly realistic radio depiction of us being invaded by extraterrestrial aliens.
But radio was no TV. Radio was about hearing. TV was like a whole new, artificial world of hearing AND seeing.
The rate of change, accelerating in the TV age, has exponentially accelerated and intensified with the coming of the electr(on)ic internet, 21st-century version.
A few years ago, I undertook a writing project to express some of the angst of the boomer generation that I grew up in.
Because I had graduated from high school and then entered college in 1969, my novel, King of Soul, turned out to be mainly about the elephant-in-the-room issue of my g -generation's historical era—the Vietnam war.
But that war was far from being the only issue that we Americans had to deal with.
In struggling to depict—and even to somehow reconcile—the great divide between them that went and us who did not go to Vietnam, I embarked on a research project to learn how the Vietnam war had started and how it escalated to become such an overarching generational crisis. My g-generation was torn apart because of what all took place over there as a result of our tragic illusion. We thought we could, with our high-tech way of doing things, show a country of undeveloped farmers how to expel the communists.
We learned a very hard lesson. It was tragic, what happened.
While the world had worked a certain way during the Big War, when we ran the Nazis back into their holes, something had sure as hell changed by the 1960’s.
The old tactics of massive military push against jungle guerrillas did not work.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the kids didn’t wanna have to go over there and do Lyndon’s dirty work.
The anti-war movement’s seemingly sudden organizational strength in 1967 was no mere happenstance. Those activists who devised a widespread effective resistance against the war had learned the hard facts of life from a previous protest movement—the Civil Rights movement.
It took a while for the anti-war movement to get its act together. But when they finally did, it was because of a hard lesson that had been learned by black folks down in dixie.
In the Freedom Summer of 1964, a widespread collection of honky activist youth suddenly showed up down in the Segregated South to help the black folk get organized for voting and organizing real societal change. There in the historical shadow of the old defeated, slave-slappin’ South, wide-eyed yankee students got a fierce reality check. Their rose-colored glasses were left broken on the blood-stained grounds of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, when they saw what violence and oppression the racist Establishment was inflicting on people of color.
Right here in Amerika, it was. Land of the free? and home of the brave!
A wake-up call it was. Based on what them wide-eyed college kids from up Nawth encountered when they got down here, they got a severe reality check. Stopping the war in Vietnam would be no walk in the park. There was bad shit going down right here in the good ole USA, just like in the rice paddies of Vietnam.
If the peaceniks wanted to get us out of Vietnam, they would have to get organized, and maybe even pick up some heavier-duty tactics . . . civil disobedience.
Meanwhile, there were a few blacks who were doing alright. Sam Cooke was one of them.
During the early 1960’s, Sam was a very successful singer-songwriter. Most of his tunes were soulishly romantic and swingy. He had a knack of finding the best in everything he wrote about. With an admirable optimism that shone forth in all his song-work, Sam managed somehow to spread good will and positive attitude everywhere he went, in spite of all the tough changes that were going down.
Some may have thought Sam to be an uncle tom, because he didn’t get angry.
But Sam Cooke—even though he celebrated optimism and good attitude—was no uncle tom.
He was not a “house nigga.”
Here’s a song that expresses Sam’s feeling about the societal changes that he felt needed to happen in the USA in the mid-1960’s. After his death in 1964, this composition was released posthumously on the B-side of a single record called Shake, and also on an album by the same name.
Here’s the tune, A Change Is Gonna Come:
And here’s my version:
Sam's Change Is Gonna Come
As we geezers have seen in our lifetime, change did indeed come.
But some things will remain the same.
Here’s a truth that always remains: Change is gonna come, like it or not.
When it does, may the change be with you, and . . . may you be with the change, if it is good.
If it’s not good, go listen to some of Sam’s old hit songs and get an attitude adjustment. Maybe you can learn to deal with it as he did—with a good attitude.
King of Soul