Monday, July 27, 2009

Spiritus Mundi

Summer means music, pop music in all its variants on the radio, for me as long as I can remember. From Three Dog Night to Sugar Magnolia, my preteen and teenage summers seem in my mind set to a rock score - a highlight would have to be Meat Loaf playing on the stereo in the Chatham home of Sue Macomber. I was in love with Sue of course and the fact that Meat Loaf was no musical genius didn't matter. That and The Who. Teenage Wasteland. We were celebrating not so much the lyrics as the emotional impact of being young and capable of being in love and realizing that we were. In love. And popular music was the unvarnished truth. It was the opposite of the sugar coated falsehoods, the conformity that was so evidently being shaken off like an old skin all around us, in the media, in schools, in our own families. In that way it was the Internet of our younger days, the way people communicated in a new push to celebrate the truth as opposed to the verities pushed by power and the status quo. The search for the authentic seems to be the impetus for new cultural forms; and technology is the latest manifestation of this.
Our opinions were so rigid on which songs and groups mattered because it was all about what was real. We had the Hemingway bullshit detectors on red alert for anybody with the slightest whiff of pandering to sentiment. My sisters liked a song, Seasons in the Sun, which I hated, and I let them know my feelings to their great discomfiture, because they loved it. It was about a family and the passage of time and the sadness of mortality, all concerns which I equated with anesthesia. You couldn't talk about it in a pop song. It was all wrong.
Ironically, that song reminds me today of my own family and present moment. We had one of those days. We must have presented a spectacle bicycling in a convoy down to the beach at Elm Brook State Park, Michael on his red BMX and skateboard helmet, Eve on her pink Starfish with the Dayglo streamers coming out of the handlebars, and Grace in the bike trailer pulled behind me. We got down to the lake, swam, played, and realizing it was late left for home, but not before the sun went down behind the dam and the stand of white pine. The Mexican campers were celebrating in full bore. I learned later when I got home that their team had wiped out the US 5 nil in the Gold Cup.
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