I have a playlist in iTunes, it has 232 songs in it (which, for me, is not a lot of songs, and I add to it regularly). I have a friend, probably several, struggling with depression. But I have been writing—emailing—back and forth with this one in particular, trying to find the words—the right words to say. I started thinking about that playlist, it is, for me, the right words to say when everything feels wrong. It’s an eclectic playlist. I mean, there are the obvious Baby-Boomer acts; Buffett, Eagles, Springsteen, The Monkees, The Beatles (collectively & individually), Dylan, Cougar-Mellencamp, there are songs by the country-folk crowd; Kristofferson, Prine, Clark, Baez, Cat Stevens. All the usual suspects. There are some surprising names as well; Sinatra, Eels, Haggard, Denis Leary… It’s the songs that I fall back on to remind me that human emotion/desire/thought is a universal sort of thing and these songs can say what I am thinking. And they say it so much more eloquently than I ever could. I’m a bad poet.
And songwriters are poets, don’t you think? I think they are.
I posted a verse from The Eagles’ The Last Resort on Facebook the other day while I was playing in that playlist and I was surprised how many people knew and loved the song, claiming, like me, that it was their favorite Eagles’ song. It wasn’t a “hit.” It was on a later album, in what Hollywood would call their declining years. But it spoke to me—to us; it’s a universal piece. Kind-a like Imagine. It touches someplace deep inside and keeps that spark we call life ignited.
My friend asked me about the meaning of life. My response was…
The meaning of life…Life…may well be 42. Life has only the meaning we assign to it. The difference between living and dying is the living part. There are lots of dead people breathing. You have to find something about which you are passionate and breathe it, every minute of every day. Bathe in it. Make love to it… That’s how to live; it gives a reason to get up every day.
I went on to say…
You can’t “let go” of your passions, you can set them aside. All passion is like chocolate, you know? You don’t think about it settles in your consciousness, dormant, and then you see that Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Godiva at Barnes and Noble — and there it is! You look at your stack of books, and the chocolate bar…and the stack of books… You do math in your head, because you came in with a budget (that obviously you went over because, well, it’s books!). So can you afford the Godiva? Will you have to return a book? Will that be worth it? You pick up the candy, look at it, re-examine your books… It is a struggle, one passion for another, which wins?
I always put a book back, always get the Godiva. Both are passions and denying one for another is to deaden all of them a little.
Music, books, and chocolate. That could be the meaning of life. I need to listen to my own advice. Maybe we need 42 of each. I guess I am making up for my lack of chocolate with music and books. Anyway, I am posting songs from my playlist each day to a Dropbox folder for my friend. So far I have:
- The Final Attraction, Kristofferson.
- To Beat the Devil, Kristofferson (possibly one of the best pieces he ever wrote).
- Closer to Fine, The Indigo Girls.
- A Couple More Years, sung by Waylon & Willie, written by Shel Silverstein.
- Eye on the Prize, sung by Bruce Springsteen. Possibly my theme for 2012.
- Angel from Montgomery, John Prine. I might have uploaded the Bonnie Raitt version.
- Pacing the Cage, sung by Jimmy Buffett, written by Mac McAnally.
It’s about the poetry.
The Pope, arguably the religious leader of the western world, said on New Year’s Eve that he was coming into 2012 filled with trepidation. After wondering how many people knew what trepidation meant, I thought, really? That’s inspiring; I’m glad I am a recovering Catholic! Apparently, he hasn’t heard The Last Resort:
There is no more new frontier; we have got to make it here!
I personally intend to keep my eye on the prize, popes and Mayans be damned! So, I think I will read a Terry Pratchett, or maybe Douglas Adams, listen to songs that make a difference, and eat some chocolate. Join me?