These days, the sunlight is rich with the gold of September. If I have a muse, it’s on days lit like this that she comes down and does what she does.
What the hell, muse?
Let me put on some music from bygone days of summer-turning-to-fall. That should wake her up.
What the hell, muse?
Maybe I’ve run out of things to say about the songs of summer-turning-to-fall, the most significant ones, from back in the 70s when I was young. As I listen, in the car, on the interstate or just running around town, to teach or to go nowhere in particular, I find I’m not really hearing individual songs anyway.
I’m not hearing anything.
I’m feeling a vibe.
The vibe is partly happy. Those summers-turning-to-fall were a good time to be a kid like me, with a road to the future that seemed smooth, wide, and limitless. The vibe is partly secure. My brothers and I never wanted for a thing. Our parents worried about the corn crop and the Cold War, about paying the light bill and saving for our college tuition, so we didn’t have to. The vibe is partly expectant. I knew that I was going to be on the radio someday—knew it. Also, there were opportunities and adventures ahead—involving school and sports, and later, girls, and part-time jobs to put money in my pocket, and graduation, and college. And then to conquer the world.
It has been so long: 40-plus years to damn near 50. I don’t know what those numbers are supposed to feel like, because they’re not numbers I ever thought I’d have to to deal with. Not that I didn’t think I’d live this long—only that when you’re a kid, the idea of being almost 60 is so abstract as to be meaningless.
I don’t know what to say that means anything about traversing that number of years. And whether you have passed a few more or a few less, you probably don’t, either.
The passage of all that time means the vibe is partly sad. Familiar places have changed irrevocably. People I loved are gone. My parents were young and vigorous, and now they’re elderly. Back then, they looked out for us. They knew what to do, and they did it. Today, we are the ones who have to look out for them, and also worry about the tariffs and the fascists, about paying the cable bill and saving for our retirement—and feel, at least some of the time, like we’ve got no fking idea whether we’re doing it right.
(And not only that: Nixon, Ford, and Carter or Donald Trump? Who’d you rather have now, America?)
Happy, secure, confident in the future. I miss the way that feels. Sometimes I’m shocked by how much I miss it. In a not-insignificant way, the vibe is painful.
Here in 2019, listening to the music and feeling the vibe, I think, this is no good. I should turn the music off. Engine roar and highway whine must be better than this.
But they aren’t, so I don’t. Because this music, from summer-turning-to-fall, has done everything for me since I first heard it. Everything. Got me out of bed, put me to sleep, pumped me up, calmed my soul, gave me strength. Probably even saved my life a time or two.
Your music, from whatever years and seasons mean the most to you, has done similar work. Probably even saved your life a time or two.
I don’t know if happiness, security, and confidence exist anymore in this horrible time we’re living through. But I suppose that if there’s anything left to hope for in this summer-turning-to-fall of 2019, it’s that the music we love might save us all again.