Top six songs 2017

And so, a little late, cos I’ve been on my winter hols, here are my top six songs from 2017 (as listed by Spotify);

Holy Guardian Angel, Van Morrison
My Only True Friend, Gregg Allman
Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Witch’s Promise, Jethro Tull
Coal Mine, Syd Arthur

They are pretty much what you might expect from an old guy of 58, I reckon. All the artistes, if they’re not actually dead, have been round the block a time or two. Old Van is still at it, as is lead singer/composer for JT, Ian Anderson (in fact the band are celebrating their 50th Anniversary with a bunch of tours in 2018). The exception, of course, is Syd Arthur, who were formed in the early-mid 2000s (tho their name harks back to a whole bunch of earlier references).

Time to look at a few of the lyrics. You never know (as has been intimated in one of my books where characters discuss rock lyrics) they may even reveal the very meaning of life..!

Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival pretty much lays out what we need to fear: nationalist zealotry and the psychotic impulse to diminish and overpower all other peoples, with the view to annihilating them if they fail to submit to our earthly demands. I’m talking to you America.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the taxman comes to the door
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Yeah!
Some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! Yo

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no military son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, one

As Syd Arthur see it in Coal Mine (recorded some fifty years on) you’ve got to dig deep if there’s any hope at all of finding an answer to all this psychotic militaristic mess (what Americans require are not political or economic analyses, but a Jungian one… At this rate, with their mixture of avarice and paranoia they are going to destroy the world, either with their perpetual world war, pollution or in one giant conflagration…see ON RELEASE)

Coal mine. Deep in a coal mine. I heard them say
Someone found a golden chain

Coal mine. Deep in a coal mine. A golden chain
Around your neck keeps you safe

Cradle. Oh cradle. Cradle of mankind
What have you got left to hide

Coal mine. Deep in a coal mine. The unexplained
Buried deep beneath the earth. A golden chain

Fly like a bird. Over the sea. Bringing treasure back to me
You say the world’s not what it seems
Life’s an endless mystery

All of which, leads us directly to the mystery of the supernatural experience of life, as painted by a couple of guys who started out in the sixties and are still going strong. Although, as a matter of fact. these two compositions are very nearly fifty years apart. Now, earthly life, as every human being knows, means trouble, pain and sorrow– just as Guatama Buddha would have it (and how many people would argue with him?) Both of their songs in this list refer to the process of time as it emerges diurnally and seasonally in a cyclic motion on this planet. So that only by appealing to the unearthly forces outside of this endless return can anything like freedom and peace be accessed. Escape from all the pain and suffering that material existence entails is possible only through supernal intervention in the context of time.

In Holy Guardian Angel, Van Morrison cuts right to the chase:

I was born in the midnight
Long before the break of day
Born in the midnight hour
Called the witching hour, they say

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody but me

So I pray to my holy guardian angel
Come what may, to my holy guardian angel
So I pray to my holy guardian angel
In the witching hour

Well my restless mind starts to wander
Known it all of my days
Need lifted up by the spiritual
When I begin to think on these things

Holy guardian angel
Holy guardian angel
Holy guardian angel
In the witching hour

Jethro Tull’s Witch’s Promise pulls no punches either:

Lend me your ear while I call you a fool.
You were kissed by a witch one night in the wood,
and later insisted your feelings were true.
The witch’s promise was coming,
believing he listened while laughing you flew.

Leaves falling red, yellow, brown, all are the same,
and the love you have found lay outside in the rain.
Washed clean by the water but nursing its pain.
The witch’s promise was coming, and you’re looking
elsewhere for your own selfish gain.

Keep looking, keep looking for somewhere to be,
well, you’re wasting your time, they’re not stupid like he is.
Meanwhile leaves are still falling, you’re too blind to see.

You won’t find it easy now, it’s only fair.
He was willing to give to you, you didn’t care.
You’re waiting for more but you’ve already had your share.
The witch’s promise is turning, so don’t you wait up
for him, he’s going to be late.

Next, in a further attempt to alleviate all that pain, onto the classic rock n roll trope of the road – constant searching and journeying, flattening out the sphere of the Earth in one long endless ribbon which, as a matter of fact, can only – eventually – meet itself, like the Uroboros chewing at its tail.

I don’t know where I’m going
But I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday

And I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time

Here I go again
Here I go again

Though I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh, Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,

‘Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone

In My Only True Friend, Gregg Allman (who actually begins his song with the image of a river flowing into the sea) says:

I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul
When I’m gone
Please don’t fly away and find you a new love
I can’t face living this life alone
I can’t bear to think this might be the end
But you and I both know the road is my only true friend

Another night alone but I see you in my dreams sometimes
No matter where I go lord knows
You were always on my mind

But you and I both know the road is my only true friend

Still on and on I run it feels like home is just around the bend
I got so much left to give
But I’m running out of time, my friend

Yes, time, looking back, looking forward, always from the point of now, travelling along that old, lonely road where there is only spatial distance and you; a point from which you hardly ever emerge. Anybody who looks in the mirror only ever sees the same thing we all see: time, space and fear. In the reflection is both Question and Answer. In relation to this blog, CCR’s Fortunate Son would apply to the social Question, while all the other songs may well relate to the individual Answer.

Happy 2018

GLYN F RIDGLEY

BOOKS ON AMAZON

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