Rock Commentaries Part One Chapters IV-VI

IV 1967                                                                                                 67-79

Airplane               Surrealistic Pillow                                 71

Doors                  Waiting For the Sun                               74

The Who             I Could see for Miles                             79

Cream                 Tales of Brave Ulysses                         81

Hendrix                The Wind Cries Mary                           82

Van Morrison       Brown Eyed Girl                                   83

Socrates on the Inspiration of Poetry                              84

V 1968-69                                                                                                                      87

Bob Dylan                        All along the Watchtower                   87

The Who                         Magic Bus                                              90

Janis Joplin                     Piece of My heart                                    90

The Rolling Stones   She’s a Rainbow; Sympathy for the Devil   91

Donovan                         Wear Your Love Like Heaven                 97

Hendrix                           Vodoo Child, Castles Made of Sand      97

Robin Gibb                                                    I Started a Joke      100

VI 1969                                                                                                                            101

Doors                                                                                                           103

Simon and Garfunkel Bridge                                                                    103

The Who                     Tommy                                                                    104

Joni Mitchel                                                                                                114

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young                                                                    117

Neil Young           Cowgirl in the Sand                                                         125

 Bowie Space Oddity                                                                                        126

Led Zeppelin                                                                                                    127

   I and II                                                                                                              131

Tommy James     Crimson and Clover                                                                 139

Chet Powers / Youngbloods                                                                                 140

1967

Suddenly, in 1967 there is classic rock proper, with two great albums produced by the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour; The Doors first two albums, Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, Hendrix Experience, Clapton and Cream with Disraeli Gears, while The Who and Stones continued to produce singles. The album, a middle step from the single to the rock opera, allows the singles to be a part of a larger story or theme, though usually it is more of a variety pack from a certain period, produced under contract according to a contract and time limit. The move from singles to albums allowed for deeper experimentation, since a hit or two could carry the album, even if the other songs took years to catch on.

1967 Surrealistic Pillow

 

The very beginning of the hippie movement is very close to the time that the Airplane visited Ken Kesey at his home in La Honda. …the very beginning of psychedelic rock. That said, the four best songs on Surrealistic Pillow contradict the sexual revolution by being about true love, as though the way to the expression of the unconscious, and what arose was this longing for love. The soul as it is by nature collides with the sexual revolution, and the principle of free love dissolves in light of the longing for eternal or permanent love. 

Somebody to Love

 When the truth is found

To be lies

And all the joy

Within you dies

Don’t you want somebody to love

Don’t you need somebody to love

Wouldn’t you love somebody to love

You’d better find somebody to love, love now.

When the garden flowers are all dead, yes dawn…[breaks]

hey your deadness

And your mind, your mind

is so full of red

Refrain

Your eyes, I say, your eyes may look like [his]

Yeah but in your head, baby, I’m afraid you don’t know where it is.

Refrain

Tears are runn’in, there all runn’in down your [breast] dress

And your friends, baby

They treat you like a guest

Refrain

Unrequited love bursts out in anguish, in a flood of suppressed emotion that is the argument of love. The lover calls the one loved to come to love, asking the one they love if they do not want and need someone to love. The lover directs the intransigent one loved to look to the future, to the time when what they now call “truth,” for which they are leaving, is found to be lies, and all the joy within them dies. The song tells the one leaving to return not to them, but to love itself, Then they might be able to understand the anguished lover. The energy of the song reveals something about the fantasy that sustains rock, of the powerful communication of the true passions of the lover. It is a powerful expression of high emotions that are denied by a world that cannot possibly receive them, even if it lacks a rational explanation for such high and occasionally noble passions. Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” is very similar in explosive passion while saying slightly different things.

That his mind is full of “red” and “Your eyes may look like His calls for explanation. The dead flowers may be related, though communism is another possibility. And is there some connection to “red” in the “Red Queen,” in the song about Alice? The song was written by Gracie’s brother Darek Slick, so the original object is female.

Comin Back to Me

Richard Goldstein too likes this one, calling it the most haunting ballad of the San Francisco rock scene, exemplary of its “softer moments” (The Poetry of Rock, pp. 72-73). In the refrain, he (Marty Balin) sees her, the one he loves, coming back to him, in an illusion or what is like a hallucination. This is a common experience of the abandoned lover, profoundly painful, leaving a long and deep sorrow. It is because the lover is looking for the one loved, and from a very deep place within them, that they experience the mistaken recognition, even as our eyes try to make creatively rational sense of sensory data, causing optical illusions, or our hearing tries to make words and syntax out of verbal sounds, as is studied in psycholinguistics. The ghostly haunting of the image of the one loved is like the phantom sensations felt by amputees. The shadow in the mist could have been anyone, but he saw her, returning to live and be with him. The scene is first set, explaining how the one loved has been gone nearly a year:

The summer had inhaled

And held its breath too long

The winter looked the same

As if it never had gone,

And through an open window

Where no curtain hung,

I saw you

I saw you comin’ back to me

One begins to read between

The pages of a look

The sound of sleepy music

And suddenly your hooked.

I saw you

Comin’ back to me.

You came to stay and live my way,

Scatter my love like

Leaves in the wind.

You always say that you won’t go away,

But I know what it always has been,

It always has been.

A transparent dream

Beneath an occasional sigh,

Most of the time

I just let it go by.

Now I wish it hadn’t begun.

I saw you,

I saw you comin’ back to me.

Strolling the hill

Overlooking the shore

I realize I been here before,

The shadow in the mist

Could have been anyone.

I saw you,

I saw you comin back to me.

Small things like reasons are put in a jar,

Whatever happened to wishes wished on a star,

Was it just something that I made up for fun?

I saw you, I saw you comin back to me.

 

(1967 Jefferson Airplane Music Co., North Argyle Avenue #407, Hollywood, California 90028.)

Mixed in with stanzas (3 and 5) where he recalls recognizing the illusion while they were together, the fourth part elaborates on the substance of the dream that his love wishes for, that she’d come to stay and live his way, scattering his love like leaves in the wind. He recalls seeing indications of the shattering of his illusion, and falling into it again like sleep and addiction. The song is his realization of what it always has been, a transparent dream, despite the painful illusion, and the experience of thinking he sees her in the mist. “Norwegian Wood,” and maybe even “Day Tripper,” also work this way. An example might be approaching someone on a dimly lit street and having to apologize that you thought they were someone you had known. The reasons that are the excuses of the departing one loved are compared to the transcendent wishes of lovers, a future good or happiness envisioned “through the eyes of love.”

White Rabbit

Now Richard Goldstein thinks the song “White Rabbit” encourages kids to “turn on” (p. 107). But we think he could not possibly have read the tragic novel “Go Ask Alice,” which was a pop novel about a girl who tripped herself into a mental institution. The song has the opposite meaning, telling kids to go ask Alice about the drugs that landed her there. Grace Slick elaborated on the connection of the pop novel of Alice to the classic Alice in Wonderland, which does indeed have such themes as the hookah smoking caterpillar involved in the transformations of Alice (Alice in Wonderland is not just a fairy tale. In the story, she is already turned on, by Lewis Carrol). LSD had become illegal only recently, and the song is an early trusted voice warning against the danger of the new drug thing.

One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small.

And the ones that mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice

When she’s ten feet tall.

And if you go chasing rabbits.

And you know your going to fall.

Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar

Has given you the call.

Call Alice

When she was just small.

When men on the chessboard

Get up and tell you where to go.

And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom

And your mind is moving low.

Go ask Alice

I think she’ll know.

When logic and proportion

Have fallen sloppy dead.

And the White knight is talking backwards

And the Red Queen’s lost her head

Remember what the doormouse said:

“Feed your head.

Feed your head.

Feed your head.”

(C. 1966 and 1967 by Copper Penny Music Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)

Did the Doormouse really say three times “feed your head?” Lewis Carroll, the pen name of the English writer Charles Dodgeson, was an Oxford mathematician who also wrote books on Euclidean Geometry and logic, and told stories to children. Alice in Wonderland became the most famous of all English’ stories for children, the literature of generations of children worldwide, since it was first printed in 1865. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are later representatives of the Oxford poets. Dodgeson is a precursor of Surrealism, and seems to have been into Opium there in the Eighteen hundreds. Alice, of Course, grows larger and smaller by potions, and thereby enters the world of the rabbit hole. The irrational chessboard occurs there in Wonderland, and the Red Queen enters rock myth from here. For the first time, I have just read “The red Queen’s ‘off with her head’.” This is a bizzare line, and may be related to “red” in “Somebody to Love.” Is it indifference to Stalinist tyranny, or to imperious murder, or just a scary contact with the tyrannic queen?

If the meaning of the song is a caution of the danger of pills and hallucinogens, what does she mean by “feed your head?” One guess is this: Drugs are little or nothing in what it is that we seek to open the doors of perception for, and surely nothing compared to associating with the great minds. But as Lao Tzu writes, none will pause for a description of the Tao. The drug problem of America is due to a spiritual poverty amid our riches, one that can be remedied by seeking wisdom and understanding. America turns to drugs in an attempt to feed our head, but what is at most an instrument is taken for the end. Cocaine and heroine, addictive and toxic medicines, were just beginning to enter the drug scene. These would soon destroy the developing music scene, and many of the musicians, as David Crosby, comments. Conversely, it is the poverty of the liberal arts in America that leaves us open to drugs and crime. Yet, whenever the question is raised as to how we might improve education, the only suggestions that can be discussed are to improve science, technology and moneymaking, so as to preserve American preeminence. The constitution is not read in High School, nor are many serious histories. History is the preserve of the certified gym teacher. Literature is sometimes worthwhile, but often watery and modern. The most serious book I read in high school may have been “Go Ask Alice.” The idea that the promotion of the genuine liberal arts[1] is the one thing we might do, one thing we can do, to benefit our nation and address the rampant devastation of drugs and crime cannot be considered in public discussions of how to improve education. None involved in education are equipped to address the question. Hence, the self perpetuation of the decline of our nation.

The Doors 1967

The Doors recorded two albums in 1967. Their first The Doors, was composed late in 1966, and released in January of 1967. The second, Strange Days was released toward the end of the year. The first word of the Doors, the first song on side one, is “Break on Through. ” It is also what has occurred in the past year in music and in culture, emerging with the new year. The first set of lines recalls the division of day and night, symbolizing the division to be broken through. Notice that day destroys night, and night of course does not destroy day. But divides one day from another. Darkness is the absence of light, but not the reverse:light is not the absence of darkness, except in a double negative in speech- at least in the same sense that darkness is the absence of light. Light is caused by the presence of the source of light. There is no source of darkness, if the words are used in the same sense. In the song, breaking through is first something that occurred to two together, something that once occurred in a love that is remembered. Then it refers to breaking through the attachment to a lost love:

I found an island in your arms

Country in your eyes

Arms that chain, eyes that lie

Break on through to the other side!

Here it is done alone, though the transcendence is through love and loss.

Soul Kitchen: I have liked this song ever since seeing it powerfully performed by Mitch Ryder at the old Grand Valley Blues and Jazz festival. One pictures the romantic adventurer Morrison loose on Love street in the L. A. of ’66.

Well the clock says its time to close, now

I’d really better go now

I’d really like to stay here all night

Cars crawl past all stuffed with eyes

Street lights spread their hollow glow

Your brain seems bruised with numb surprise

Still one place to go

Still one place to go

Let me sleep all night in your

Soul Kitchen

Warm my mind with your gentle stove

Or turn me out in the world, baby

Stumbling through the neon glow

Let your fingers creep in minarets

Speak in secret alphabets

I light another cigarette

Learn to forget

Learn to forget

Hendrix’ image is very similar, “Let me stand next to your fire.” Light My Fire was the first big hit to explode onto the airwaves, written by Krieger. Morrison is a genius with lyrics and melody, with a stunning sense for what notes come next, that seems, from the Oliver Stone portrayal) to turn Light My Fire” from something not far along the way from surf music into something Doors, into psychedelic rock. The rhyming of pyre and fire reminds of Dido, the Carthaginian Queen who delivered herself to flames when abandoned by Aeneas. The very flames of passion consume the lover left behind.

Some of the love songs of Morrison and the Doors are works of astonishing beauty:

Before you slip into unconsciousness

I’d like to have another kiss

Another flashing chance at bliss

Another kiss, another Kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain

Enclose me in your gentle rain

The time you ran was too insane

We’ll meet again, We’ll meet again.

Oh tell me where your freedom lies

The streets are fields that never die

Deliver me from reasons why

You l’d rather cry

I’d rather fly

The crystal ship is being filled

A thousand thrills, a thousand girls

A million ways to spend your time

When we get back, I’ll drop a line.

The crystal ship is the vehicle of imagination, transporting him on adventures of love. The poem is a love call, from the poet lover to one who ran, frustrated him with reasons why, perhaps about concern for her freedom, and is now falling asleep, just as he is to leave town. The crystal ship and a thousand girls is how he wants her to imagine him, so that his request might be granted in the future.

The End

I once had a brief conversation in the checkout line of the library, where the worker was reading the poetry book of Jim Morrison, and asked what I thought of him as a poet. I indicated some of his love poetry I thought was very nice, but then pointed to the end of one poem and asked “What’s up with the gun?” or “why does a gun show up in this scene?” Like a poet, perhaps, and like the poetry of Blake, who seems to be his principle influence, he is deep, but at a certain point indifferent to good and evil, which in the end mars his beauty as a poet. He is mercurial, either good or evil, and his depth ends up indifferent or leading to violence. And here, as a man, or, philosophically, he is simply contradictory: he wants at once to oppose the horrors of war, for the unknown soldier, regardless of whether the war is just or unjust, and then admits to his soul a violence, and even the “will to power,” on which basis it would be difficult to say what then is wrong with war, this war, or any other war.

Famously, Morrison was kicked out of the Whiskey a go go in Hollywood for an outrageous performance of “The End.” In the Rolling Stone interview, Morrison tells Jan Werner a bit about the song The End: Werner asks about the meaning of the “Oedipus section,” of “The End,” and Morrison responds

 Yeah, I’d say there was a similarity, definitely. But to tell you the truth, every time I hear that song, it means something different to me. I really don’t know what I was trying to say. It just started out as a simple goodbye song

W: Goodbye to who or what?

M: Probably just a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don’t know. I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.

I only address this song because it would seem obligatory in a book of this sort, because here I can’t praise or enjoy a writer that is very popular, and on some occasions very enjoyable. It began as a song about the end of a love, and these are somehow the things one runs into at the end of love. Love is, among other things, everything in the world. It is the root of the attachment of the soul to the world. The end of love, especially a true but unrequited love, may present one with an encounter with the limit of mortality and humanity. The death of one loved might do the same. In the recognition of mortality, the original ordering of the soul is dissolved or undone. Nicodemus asks, “How can a man return… (John 3:4-10). Humans can transcend their humanity in either the direction of the divine or of the animal, and here the crossroad of the way of sacrifice or the way of murder is decisive. Here is what we think of Morrison as a poet: His love poetry is beautiful, but something leaves him open to the dark side, and he is devoured by it. He finds Lord Byron and Nietzsche, but lacks philosophical spine. He never found Shakespeare and Plato, so that he might, through beauty, find the eros of Socrates, and true philosophy. It is replaced by a teaching that excess is the way of the pursuit of wisdom, and a leaning toward the Dionysian without the Apollonian, and so without the order and measure that would have kept him and his poetry from falling into the abyss of excesses that cannot but lead quickly if not mercifully, to death. His “Lizard King,” his long snake with cold skin, and cancellation of his subscription to the resurrection, are not encouraging.

Morrison continues in the interview to tell a story of meeting a girl who was on leave from a psychiatric ward, who told him this was a favorite song of many on the ward. This was after he had discussed the song in the same way, saying “everyone should relate it to their own situation…” It led him to think about “the consequences…” If someone were to act out the song, they would kill their father, etc. The conversation with the girl from the psychiatric ward is significant because Morrison apparently understands that to enact these things would be madness, and worse. Why then does he consider it good art? To “kill” ones father is symbolically to transcend his authority, and so a part if growing up, but it is also the transcendence of authority required by evil in order to gain our souls. And does he cancel his subscription to the resurrection? As a man, he shows a reckless indifference, not only to custom but also to good and evil.

Has Morrison written these things because he heard second hand from Freud that they are deep, so when this arose or occurred to him, he made it into an artwork, without thinking about what he was saying? And did Freud ever consider the consequences or his influence on future artists? Is it an instance of modern art self consciously taking up psychological themes because these are reputed to be deep, or an instance of modern psychology guiding art? Freud thought he was describing things about the infantile development of libido and superego, repressed unconscious, etc. But how does he know that he is not describing something found by Sophocles in a better way, and understood by Socrates to be related to the genesis of tyranny (Plato, Republic 571d, 572c and Book IX)?

A few pages later, he says: “To me, politics is nothing more than the search of certain individuals for power.” When he arrives at a principle, behind the void, as it were, he finds the “will to power.” What then of the unknown soldier, or why, then, is the sacrifice of the young to war unfortunate? Were we not beyond all this, of good and evil? The latter end of his thought forgets or abandons the peace, love and beauty that was what was hopeful in its origin. To unravel this mess in thought would require a long account. We must here leave it at saying that Freud assumed a world where it does not make sense to say that murder is wrong, while we live in the world of common sense, a world where this, and other consequent things are just assumed. We try to clarify these assumptions, rather than destroy them. This, the good behind the beautiful, is that for the seeing of which the doors of perception might be cleansed.

That said, I was hopeful for Morrison, with line “I’m gonna love you / Till the heavens start the rain…Till the stars fall from the sky…” But then I learned that this was written by Krieger.

Here is an occasion for a passing comment, and a plea for philosophic leeway for these musicians, related to the idea of Socrates that the poets write what they write well from inspiration. These songwriters are often turned to for political, philosophic and psychological wisdom, because they are indeed somehow great, and famous. They are in truth philosophic sophomores, and often literally about that age, though some are thoughtful. It is amazing that they say as much as they do. When something enters popular music from the tradition of thought, such as “Ghost in the Machine,”­ at first a description of the dualism of Descartes it is not usually well thought out in a comprehensive vision. They are love poets trying to say meaningful things, rather than statesmen or philosophers. The best, like Dylan or Bowie, know this, and that is the moderation behind Dylan’s withdrawal from the peace movement and even topical songwriting.

Strange Days 1967

“Moonlight drive” was apparently already written by Morrison before the band was formed. The documentary shows Morrison singing the song for Manzerik on the beach when they first began working together.

Let’s swim to the moon uh huh

let’s climb through the tide,

Penetrate the evening that the city sleeps to hide

Let’s swim out tonight, love it’s our turn to try

Parked beside the ocean on our moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon uh huh let’s climb thru the tide,

Surrender to the waiting worlds that lap against our side

Nothing left open and no time to decide

We’ve stepped into a river on our moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon let’s climb through the tide

You reach a hand to hold me but I can’t be your guide

Easy to love you as I watch you glide

Falling through wet forests on our moonlight drive

As a lover loose in the city night, Morrison is unparalleled. Parking in the moonlight melts into swimming through the sea to the moon, and this merges with the Edenic wet forest. “Easy to love you as I watch you glide” brings in the soul, and a fine uninhibited description of lovers together. This seems to be the love he lost, and this and his response to it seems to be behind both the genius and madness of Jim Morrison.

I can’t see your face in my mind

I can’t see your face in my mind

Insanity’s horse adorns the sky

Can’t see your face in my mind

I can’t seem to find the right line

I won’t need your picture

Until we say goodbye

The title line is a shocking statement of the loss of love as the loss of the vivid image of the face in our memory. The dispersion of the image leaves the lover near insanity, as Othello said, “When I love thee not, Chaos is come again.” The disintegration indicates that loss of soul is more literal than it seemed. Here the images emerge, and the pilgrim first confronts his own shadow, or the “many colored beast.” The poet is left in a loneliness where his only friend is music. To dance on fire, lost in the intention of the music brings him out of himself and his lover’s despair. But when the show over, he is very alone.

…When the music is your special friend

Dance on fire as it intends

Music is your only friend

Until the end

 The question is whether music can fulfill the longings of the soul, or whether something higher than music allows music to heal and “bring light to the world.” The tragic view of life and the soul holds that there is no higher fulfillment.

The Who:

I Could See For Miles

The same depth and height of the poet Townshend, as appeared in “Can’t Explain” radical courageousness. “I Could See for Miles” hit the charts in November of 1967. An astonishing thing is occurring in the song that slips past the popular audience because no one can imagine or believe what is being said:

I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise

I know that you have cause there’s magic in my eyes

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles

If You think I don’t know all about the little tricks you play

I never see when deliberately you put things into my way

Well here’s a poke at you

Your gonna choke on it too

Your gonna lose that smile

Because all the while

I could see for miles and miles

I could see for miles and miles

I could see for miles and miles and miles.

You took advantage of my trust in you when I was so far away

I saw you holding lots of other guys and now you have the nerve to say

That you still want me

Well that’s as may be

But you gotta stand trial

Because all the while

I could see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles

I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise

I know that you have cause there’s magic in my eyes

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles

The Eifel Tower and the Taj Mahal and I could see all clear as day

You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right thorough the haze

Well here’s a poke at you

Your gonna choke on it too

Your gonna lose that smile

Because all the while

I could see for miles and miles and miles.

“Magic in his eyes” is a prophetic sight, like that symbolized in the crystal ball, that sometimes happens in love, due to the presence of intellect. Sometimes when one is unfaithful, the one who loves experiences or sees at a distance. This occurs in matters other than fidelity, and is a wonder. In love, a kind of cause is present that Jung calls “synchronicity,” when separate things move together simultaneously, due to a connection in meaning. The two become one flesh, and the love is like a larger soul, as tools move at the same time they are moved, or parts in a whole move in simultaneity. Incidentally, that too is where Sting got the title of that album, from a very famous essay by Carl Jung.[2] Synchronic coincidences occur as a sign, drawing attention to the significance of certain moments. In love, as we say, the two participate in a larger whole that is the love, and so the two together are effected simultaneously, as parts of a whole. A simple example is the use of tools, when we take up an object and make it a part of our action: The pen moves across the room at the same time that I move it across the room. This is no wonder, but if what appears when simultaneity appears is correct, it would suggest that all things are parts of a whole. Physics has just begun to consider distant particles that act in simultaneity, though they have yet to look to metaphysics or to consider what makes each of the things a thing, that is, the shapes or forms of things. Light and heavy balls fall at the same rate, good, but what makes each a ball? The question is more pressing if we consider living things, like trees, where there is an obvious difference between tree and not tree, or a very distinct entity. So, if physics has yet to consider what makes trees and tables different things, it is not surprising that they have only begun to consider simultaneous causes and effect, or objects linked at a distance. But to return, the song shows the experience of the telepathic union of souls in a love. Hermia’s Dream is an example from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (II,ii, 145-150). Her love falls in love with another by accident, and she simultaneously dreams that a serpent is eating her heart. This simultaneity a part of the mystery of love, and this experience one of the questions love raises about the whole of things.

Those who have seen this can only be silently amazed at what such a thing implies, yet there it is: the two participate in one that is the love, and are effected simultaneously. Still the assurance of the vision across miles is astonishing, and results in knowledge: “I know that you have, cause there’s magic in my eyes.” To be wrong about such a thing would be madness, but to be correct…Let us say that the spiritedness or anger of the Who is in some sense the indignation of true love trying to get along in a world that does not deserve it Such vision seems to occur as a gift, or supervenes while the one who sees is concerned about matters of love­, often in times of distress. It seems useful in hindsight, in reconciliation to the fate or fortunes of love, though not very useful in foresight. How does it happen? We Can’t Explain!

“Pictures of Lily” is interesting not only for its honesty about what Bloom calls “Onanism,”[3] but also for its exploration of the theme of youthful subjection to irrational eros and the theme of love across time. He falls in love with his father’s adolescent pinup girl, who happens to have died in 1929. It is about the loneliness and confusion of the imagination in teen love, about a kind of knowledge of nature that limits the power held over us by shame, and about falling in love through the images, then wanting to go back to her in time,­ a comment on the image quality of love. In defense of Townshend, the honesty is more a refusal to allow shame to be used as an instrument of authority, and we suggest that this spirit of liberty is as much behind the blatant honesty that characterized the movement. The male is incited to intercourse by sight, and this is a large part of the reason for clothing. Women once paraded bare breasted as a demonstration for equality, in Windsor of course, just across the border, and we chuckled over here because if the women understood men and sight, they would know that clothing, like gender-separate restrooms, establishes equality. (Another reason for clothing is for the old, so that we not offend others with our ugliness). The later, love across time, is the theme of some interesting movies, as “Somewhere in Time,” set on Mackinac island here in Michigan.

Cream 1967: Tales of Brave Ulysses

One of the best examples of liberal arts poetry, “Ulysses” is akin in the British tradition to On Looking into Chapman’s Homer of John Keats. Ulysses is the Roman name of the Greek hero Odysseus. But here it is a psychedelic experience of love and the Siren’s torture of Odysseus, when the crew was to pass by with wax in their ears, while Odysseus had them bind him to the mast so that he could hear the song most pay with their lives to hear, and yet live.

 You thought the leaden winter would bring you down for ever

But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.

And the colors of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids

And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses

How his naked ears were tortured by the siren’s sweetly singing

For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white lace lips

And you see your girl’s brown body dancing in the Turquoise

And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body

And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea

Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind

Tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers

And you want to take her with you to the heartland of the winter

Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell

And you know you cannot leave her

For you’ve touched the distant sands

With tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured

By the siren’s sweetly singing

The lyric was written by Australian artist Martin Sharp, who also designed the cover for the album.[4] This is a very fine but very difficult song. It mixes Kaleidoscopic imagery from an experience with things from Homer’s Odyssey. He experiences a fusion with the girl that is like the sirens to Odysseus and his encounter with Circe at the end of the world, where he was offered immortality, and declined. The Sirens occur in a different scene, when Odysseus has his men tie him to the mast of the ship so that he can hear the song of the sirens and not be captured by it. All these strange images, including the experience of the poet with his beautiful girl, are unified because they are encounters with the goddess Aphrodite, which is one sort of the love of the beautiful (The other being the love of Athena, following the choice of Hercules and Socrates). It is dangerous, and not quite fitting for a mortal to have this sort of association with the distant shore, but with tales of brave Ulysses, he’s touched the distant sands, and knows he cannot leave her.

1967 Hendrix Experience The Wind Cries Mary

 In 1967, Jimi Hendrix was discovered in New York and taken to London, where he impressed all the musicians, and so was introduced to America at the Monterrey festival. “Hey Jo” and “Purple Haze” were hits from this first album, Experience. Like Clapton, Hendrix was first a guitarist and second a lyricist, though great songs gravitated toward them due to their supremacy in the electric blues, and eventually they wrote classic lyrics. Hendrix wrote this when his wife took off after a fight.

After all the jacks are in their boxes

And after all the clowns have gone to bed

You can hear happiness stagger on down the street

footprints dressed in red         ?

A broom is drearily sweeping

Up the broken pieces of yesterdays life

Somewhere a queen is weeping

Somewhere a king has no wife

And the wind whispers “Mary”

The traffic lights they turn blue tomorrow

And shine their emptiness down on my bed

The tiny island sags downstream

cause the life that lived is dead

And the wind screams “Mary”

Will the wind ever remember

The names it has blown in the past?

And with this crutch, its old age and its wisdom,

It whispers no, this will be the last.

The setting of the song “Third Stone from the Sun” is an alien landing his spaceship on the third stone from the sun, which is earth. The song is spoken as a soliloquy, speaking to himself, and then to the earth, but to no one in particular. As he pulls in, he comments on how the planet appears to him:

 Oh, strange beautiful grass of green

With your majestic silken scenes

Your mysterious mountains

I wish to see closer

May I land my kinky machine?

 The last line suggests that it is Jimi at the controls, and this will be confirmed in the second set of lines, spoken after the alien spaceman lands and has looked around awhile:

Although your world wonders me

With your majestic superior and Catholic hand

Your people I do not understand

So to you I wish to put an end

And you’ll never hear surf music again.

The alien’s destruction of our world is synonymous with the end of the old kind of music, and it is sealed that the spaceman is the poet. It is not as though he were an earthling who left, as on an “experience,” but as though he were always alien, as far as music is concerned. The images of poetry are analogies, whose terms, like a three dimensional algebraic equation, explain something unknown through the analogous terms of a thing that is known. So the song, about an alien visit to the third stone, is about how Jimi sees the human world, and how this world will be changed due to what he is doing in music.

1967 Van Morrison Brown Eyed Girl (Web IV Music, Inc)

This may be the greatest of all songs on the theme of remembering an old love, this one from the special time of first love, when one doesn’t have a place and so romps in the woods. This was for him when the fifties and early sixties music was about, falling in love to the tunes on the transistor radio.

Hey, where did we go?

Days when the rains came

Down in the hallow

Playin a new game

Laughin and a runnin, hey,hey

Skippin and a jumpin

In the misty morning fog with

Our hearts a thumpin and you

My brown eyed girl

You, my brown eyed girl

Do you remember when

We used to sing

Sha la la la…

Now what ever happened to

Tuesday and so slow

Goin down in the old mine with a transistor radio

Standing in the sunlight laughing

Hiding behind a rainbow’s wall

Slippin and a sliding

All along the waterfall

With you, my brown eyed girl

So hard to find my way, / Now that I’m all on my own

I saw you just the other day, My how you had grown

Cast my memory back there, Lord,

Sometime I’m overcome, thinkin’ ’bout

Makin’ love in the green grass

Behind the stadium with you

My brown eyed girl

Do you remember when we used to sing

Sha la la la…

It is the third section that makes the song a tear jerker, since he still loves her and has never found another. The most potent line of the song is “So hard to find my way…” And he saw her, and she is now fully mature, which is how we know that she was then hardly sixteen. But the beauty of the memory overcomes the sorrow, in the second most potent line, a prayer “Cast my memory back there, Lord,” and he is overcome by the memory.

An interesting note for the troubadours: One most prolific writer of the sort of music called “country,” Pam Oland, writes, in her book The Art of Writing Great Lyrics (p. 11), that one ought not write of the particulars of ones love, such as brown eyes, because this will narrow the universal appeal, making the song less valuable in the marketplace, and less likely to achieve the goal of the songs becoming “standards.”

 “For instance, if your writing a song about a blue-eyed blonde, your listener might not be able to relate if his girlfriend has dark hair and brown eyes. If you feel this could be a problem, consider using adjectives that are universal, such as “sensual, beautiful or dynamite.”

Perhaps this is a clue to the difference between country, the “sole repository of the traditional wit,” (Ibid) and other sorts of music. So, were Mr. Morrison in her songwriting class, she might suggest correcting the brown eyed girl, according to the art which achieves success. One ought not write “Your long blonde hair and your eyes are blue / The only thing I ever got from you was Sorrow,” as in the song “Sorrow.” Or “Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair…” But this is absurd. If we could not join in reminiscing about his brown eyed girl, we could not through his, remember our own, regardless of the color of her eyes or hair. What we join in is that he, and we, loved a very particular girl, and her strikingly beautiful features live in our memory. The particularity is essential to the love and to the song, and is the very vehicle of the universality, when the particulars are poetic.

We will take up below the question of whether there is an “art of songwriting.” Here, in a word: generalizations can be drawn from what emerges, but the orders of lyrics and poetry arise by themselves, and are collected as an afterthought. To follow them primarily is artificial, as is the aim to rhyme. The orders are useful in bringing a section to sprout or bloom, and rhyme serves to jog our memory and recognition, bringing words into our minds. If one has written three sets of four lines and one is hanging out, it may be a sixteen line poem one is working on, etc. Lyric structure serves as a guide. Of special importance is when two stanzas have the same melody, because the word occurring in the same place along the melody set up a parallel that both helps write and reveals meaning, in reading. Perfect lyric structure is shown in the 1967 song “Suzanne,” by Leonard Cohen, a song that will be considered last. But to write according to rules makes the writing artificial, which perhaps may not affect one’s success if he is writing country standards, and all his girls happen to be blonde.

A note: I should confess that when I like a song that can be called country, I call it folk, and wonder about the difference between these two. When pressed for an account, I have tried to say that country music is “not poetry,” or is too literal, devoid of images, and similarly is “not music.” In its defense, it tends to sing of good and simple things, unlike the worse strains of rock. At work I suffer when the boss plays country, but reflect that Jesus taught we ought lay down our lives for our friends, and so resolve to tough it out. One particularly long day, when a country session had left me, from sheer boredom, near to suicidal despair, the clouds parted, and they played “I would have loved you anyway / Though I’d known my heart would break.” Though this may be a country song, it is beautiful because it is written in the life of the soul, or the eternal life within us, and so reconciles the jilted lover to love and to his fate, helping us to heal. The lover does not love for the sake of having the love returned, but love is its own reward, and the lover loves for its own sake, much like the reason of the best lyricists for writing. Mind the meaning, and the art will follow. First seek the kingdom, and the other things too may follow, and if not, they will be the less missed. Socrates, too, says: “…Not from money does virtue come, but from virtue comes money and all the other good things” {Apology 30 b)

In the Republic, the poets are to make their works with knowledge, or not make them, and all the great Greek poets are banished. The founders are to know the models, and not compose the particular songs. But elsewhere, Socrates is shown teaching that the poets make what they make well by inspiration rather than knowledge. The other half of the story is in the Platonic account of lyric poetry as based on inspiration rather than “art” in the Greek sense (of technae).

Socrates on the inspiration of poetry: From Plato’s Apology, Phaedrus and Ion 

The best, or most beautiful and meaningful music comes to us, as we have been saying, not directly by knowledge, but by a kind of inspiration. Musical inspiration is different from religious inspiration, but is a kind of inspiration nonetheless.[5] While it comes from “within,” the source of the greatest songs is from “above” or “outside” the composers themselves, in some sense. Inspiration presupposes “art,” in the sense of technical ability, but, as is obvious, there is not a technique of writing even great poetry or music, as there is a technique of carpentry or bricklaying. The technical skill of the musician, an essential part of the wonder of performances, is only a body or vehicle for some daemonic[6] or magical something that supervenes on the activity of composing songs. The excellence, and the art, of the musician is to be prepared for and to be open to this inspiration. And this is the root of the other meaning of the word “art,” pertaining not to making useful but rather imitative products. The product does not come only from the character of the person, but somehow from the nature of man that we all have a part in. Hence the poet becomes the voice of a whole people or of an age, and even sometimes of mankind.

Socrates, in three or four places, is shown by Plato transmitting a teaching that the poets write what they write well from inspiration rather than knowledge. There is, first, a story in Plato’s Apology that is well known for being most revealing about poetry. Socrates tells the story to the Athenian jury when he tries to explain how it is that he acquired his reputation for a certain wisdom, a sort of “human wisdom.” This human wisdom seems to be that he knows that he does not have divine wisdom. As the story goes, Chaerephon, a friend of Socrates, had gone to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi and asked if there was anyone wiser than Socrates. The oracle replied that there was not. When Socrates heard the saying, he understood it to be a riddle. He was aware that he was not wise “either much or little.” He was at a loss for some time, and then he set about investigating it, by examining those reputed to be wise, and demonstrating that they were not. While his associates found this amusing, many of those examined became angry, It is the poets, politicians and rhetors who bring charges that led to the death of Socrates, each represented by one of the three accusers, Meletus, Anytus ansd Lycon. He went around Athens to three sorts of people: the poets, the politicians and the craftsmen. He considered his questioning of his fellow Athenians to be like a divine mission or Herculean labor, to test and refute or vindicate the oracle. Since he knew he did not know anything, if he found someone who did, he would refute the oracle, but if he could not find someone wiser, then the oracle would be confirmed. Socrates went to the poets, politicians and craftsmen. The politicians and the poets both prove not to have knowledge, but the poets are said to work by a kind of inspiration. They produce their gem in a sort of madness, as Socrates told Phaedrus, and do not possess knowledge of the things they are inspired to say. As Socrates reports to the Athenians, “I would take up those poems of theirs which it seemed to me that they had worked on the most, and I would ask them thoroughly what they meant, so that I might also learn something from them at the same time.”[7] Famously, he concluded that almost anyone present would have spoken better than the poets did about the poems that they themselves had made.

It is not clear just what Socrates means by this saying, that almost anyone seemed to speak better than the poets themselves about their own compositions, and it is worth thinking about. Obviously, One would think that Dylan in a few weeks if not hours, could tell us more about All along the Watchtower than we could think of on our own in one hundred years, and one suspects that they do not talk because we cannot hear them, and they want to speak publicly through their art, rather than through interviews.

Perhaps Socrates means that the poets themselves would be distracted, whether by their own opinion of themselves or other concerns, while almost anyone present can directly address the meaning of the poems. In addition, there Socrates says…

I recognized from this that they do not make what they make by wisdom, but by some natural inspiration, like diviners and those who deliver oracles. For they too say many noble things, but they know nothing of what they speak.

(Apology, 22 a-c)[8]

The statement is paradoxical because great poets and musicians obviously do have a skill that is built up by a kind of knowledge and experience, as in the trades, yet, unlike the craftsmen, they produce their best work when they are very young. With musicians especially, their skill provides a vehicle or vessel which might allow for inspiration, should it happen by. While it is obvious that a composer, like Dylan, knows a great deal more about his poetry than we the listeners who enjoy it, there is another sense, the perennial spiritual sense, in which the poets are in the same circumstance as the listeners regarding the meaning of the permanent things addressed in their songs. The poems reveal things their own authors might find illuminating, even as one might see years later into the significance of a certain dream one had long ago. And there are many things, as for example the meaning of the wizard figure that appears to Tommy in The Amazing Journey, that are difficult to discuss, and would not sound proper for the songwriters themselves to discuss publicly. What would be said would not be understood, and they might then often have to praise themselves, as is proper only for the aged who are worthy.

In the dialogue Phaedrus, too, Socrates says that the poets work by a kind of divine madness. As he describes this sort of divine madness to Phaedrus,

…And a third possession and madness from the muses, seizing the gentle and chaste soul, stimulates it to rapt expression, as in odes and the other kinds of poetry, embellishing the myriad of deeds of the ancients to educate those born after. But he who comes to the doors of poetry without the madness from the muses, persuaded that composing from art is sufficient, the sound-minded are made invisible by the mad.

(Phaedrus 245 a )

Love itself is, according to their argument, a sort of madness that is “the greatest good fortune given from the gods,” “sent from the gods for the help of both lover and beloved,” (Phaedrus 245 c1-2).” The musician-songwriters are especially prolific when they are young, before the age of twenty-five, which is the age of love, so that the inspiration of music is related to the inspiration of love. Though Socrates does not say so, the songs about love, it would seem to follow, might also be as if divinely inspired, and so the other kinds of songs that we have come to sing.

The Greek lyric poetry recognized by Socrates here focused exclusively on the deeds of ancient heroes, while ours almost never does so. “Pride,” by U2 is an exception. There are eight or nine great lyricists of ancient Greece, as Orpheus and Marsyas, and a flowering of eight or so in the late Seventh to early sixth centuries B. C., including Arion, Sappho and Pindar. Much of their lyrics, and all of Greek musical notation, have been lost, so that we do not know, yet must expect that these are at least as great as some of the things in Renaissance opera and classic rock, if only they had been preserved. Orpheus and Museus are mentioned with Homer and Hesiod as those with whom Socrates would wish to speak after death, if it is a transmigration rather than a sleep.

In his discussion with Ion, Socrates focuses on the difference between divine allotment and the knowledge of an art, the difference between a poet and a statesman or diviner. He then seems to become inspired himself in describing the poet as being like an iron ring hanging from a magnet that is like the muse:

For they say, don’t they, that they bring us songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the muses–like the bees, and winging the air as these do. And what they tell us is true. For a poet is a light and winged and sacred thing, and is unable ever to… be a poet, until he is spellbound and out of his senses, and his wits are no longer in him…That is why the god takes away the wits of these men and uses them as his ministers, just as he does with soothsayers and godly seers, in order that we who hear them may know that it is not they who utter these priceless words, when they are out of their wits, but that it is the god himself who speaks and addresses us through them.[9]

(Ion, 534 a-d)

If they did make their poems by art, the poets would excel in many genres rather than each in a single kind of poem, and the rhapsodes like Ion would speak well not only on one but on every poet. J Keyser relates the instructions regarding how to guide one’s chariot around the stone (Ion 537 a-b), and the danger of touching the stone is compared to a wrong sort of divine possession. In the Republic too, the magnet is the muse, as dialectic is set at the top of education “like a coping stone” (534 e2). Socrates, the philosopher, rules in the republic of letters, even by his knowledge of ignorance. This allows intelligence on occasion to rule. Intelligence is then similar to the divine madness of poetry, in that it is in part not our own. And at the conclusion of the Symposium, Alcibiades compares the speeches of Socrates to the songs of the piper Marsyas, describes the effect of these tunes:

 And whoever plays them, from an absolute virtuoso to a two-penny flute girl, the tunes will have a magic power, and by virtue of their own divinity, they will show which of us are fit subjects for divine initiation. The tunes themselves are like a tuning fork which tests the music of the natures, and it is this that we will try to follow in looking for and considering the best of our songs.

Great lyric poetry, then, comes through a sort of divine madness, a rapture that leads to an expression that is not simply the poet’s own, in the way that our ordinary conversation is our own. This would not be surprising if, according to another famous Socratic teaching, there were somehow knowledge in the soul (Meno, 81a-d) especially regarding the things of the soul. The images and songs that occur to the poets come from this knowledge, something like the way water comes from a spring or fountain, or light spread through a prism. Jung attempts to explain this phenomenon in terms of archetypes contained in a collective unconscious of mankind. It would follow too that philosophy, in cultivating wisdom, might trace this spring to its source, in a kind of knowledge. Our admiration for the songs at best involves a participation in and integration of this knowledge that is somehow in the soul. One theory of Aesthetics is that visible beauty is the presence of the invisible intelligence in the visible. Beauty may be simply the presence of the intelligible, and hence, the more intelligible a work of art is, or the more it is an image of intelligible things, the more beautiful. This may be the hidden theory of the forms, more akin to Jung than the presentation of the forms as linguistic universals. It is a certain kind of forms, about human things, and a certain logos, that leads to philosophy of the true and musical sort. So the golden thread of beauty and nobility leads to philosophy.

Rather, then, than apply techniques of songwriting, what one can do to become a great and good lyric poet is to associate deeply with the great and good lyric poets, and give oneself over to the great cultivators of the mind of mankind, and find the best posture or regard for each of the things that are the lyric themes. Association with the best makes one better. Famously, Socrates taught that knowledge was not like pouring content from one soul into another, but like stimulating recollection by questioning and showing us we do not know what we think we know. In the Republic, Socrates teaches that there is an art of the turning of souls, from darkness and becoming to being and light. Then, turned toward its proper objects, the eye of the soul sees and appears to possess intelligence (Republic Vi-VII).

 

Chapter V: 1968

1968 is a slow year in rock compared to the years just before and just after. It is as though the bands were exhausted from the flourish of 1967 and winding up for what would be a second great wave, in 69-71. The nation went into a second shock with the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy.

Dylan and Hendrix 1968: All Along the Watchtower

This is a very difficult song. Two characters, the Joker and the Thief, hold a discussion. This dialogue is mixed with the narration of the poet The Joker speaks to the thief, hoping to find a “way out of here.” But how can the Joker say “drink my wine and “dig my earth” ? Who is speaking in the second stanza?

“There must be some kind of way out of here,” said the Joker to the thief.

“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief

Business men they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief he kindly spoke

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke

But you and I we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour’s getting late.”

All along the Watchtower, princes kept their view.

While all the women came and went, barefoot servants too

Outside in the cold distance, a wild cat did prowl

Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

The big clue is as Trager writes, often commented on by Dylanologists, a connection between All Along the Watchtower and Isaiah 21. Trager notes that biographically, Dylan was reading Torah and Talmud around Woodstock, where he lived at the time that the song was written. Isaiah 21 is about the Fall of Babylon. It is first a prophecy of Isaiah delivered some hundred plus years before the fall of Babylon that resulted in the return of the Judah tribes to Jerusalem. Isaiah’s prophecy is delivered in the time of the conquest and scattering of the ten northern tribes, by Assyria. Idolatry, including human sacrifice, had become rampant, resulting in the conquest, about 607 B. C. It is some years later (about 587 B.C.) that the two southern tribes and Jerusalem fall to Babylon, leading to the exile lamented in the song “we remember thee, Zion.” The watchtower is a lookout set for the sign of the fall of Babylon and the restoration of Jerusalem. In Isaiah (21 6-7), the Lord told him to set a watchman:

Let him announce what he sees.

When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,

riders on asses, riders on camels,

Let him listen diligently,

very diligently.

When the watchman announces that he sees riders of horsemen in pairs, it is the sign that Babylon has fallen. Then “he,” apparently the Lord, answers the watchman:

 Fallen, Fallen is Babylon

And all the images of her gods

he has shattered to the ground.

 The watchman is the prophet, watching from the destroyed city of Jerusalem, and he is answered by the Lord. So the setting of “All Along the Watchtower” is Jerusalem and the fall of Babylon. But why are there business men present? The fall of Babylon is also prophetic of the end times, as John writes of a mysterious Babylon that has authority over all the kings of the earth (Revelation 17-18). It is probably different from the kingdom of the Antichrist, because though she comes riding in on the beast, the beast attacks and destroys her, and what she is is a mystery. The fall of Babylon may be something like the fall of the human earthly kingdom, a thing different from the Antichrist and his kingdom. This would be the reason for the title of the Watchtower pamphlet delivered by the Witnesses. The Watchtower and the fall of Babylon are also prophetic, of the present end times, the hour that for us, not for the Jews of the Sixth century B.C., is now getting late. Whether man can make the church, or by convention designate the 144,000, or whether this is not more a Babylonian thing, remains to be seen. But for Christians, as the Egyptian exile prefigures the first advent, so the Babylonian exile prefigures the second advent. The Joker and the Thief were not present in Jerusalem at the historical fall of Babylon. When Babylon falls, the entry of the kingdom is near. There is a counting in the Book of Daniel that begins from the restoration to the coming of an anointed one, and from this one cut off to the end times (Daniel 7;9:24-27); A final question would be whether the poem presents the change of the times then beginning with the fall of Babylon.

So we return to the beginning of the song. Who is the Joker and who the Thief? Is it Jesus and the Devil? Either are described as thieves. Heylin refers to Bill Cartwright, The Bible in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan, who refers to the one mention of the rapture in the Revelation (3: 3; 16:15; Matt 24:42-44), the interjection that he will come as a thief. A Joker too could be either. And are we sure which would be which? The Joker calls the earth his earth, when he complains to the thief that the businessmen and plowmen and others do not know anything of the value of the earth, on which they live or use. The thief responds that this is no reason to get excited, for there are many here who feel that life is only a joke. This would seem reasonable if it were the creation of a Joker. But rather, it seems the Joker only says it is his earth. But neither the Joker or the Thief think that life is a joke. They know what the contest is about. They are alike, and unlike those among them, in knowing the value of the earth and taking life seriously. Their fate is not to feel as those among them do, but rather to speak the truth, perhaps to one another, since the hour is late. The power of this line about truth speaking underlines the possibility that the poem identifies the emerging spirit, or what must fall in order for the new spirit to emerge, with the fall of Babylon. It is time to talk truthfully, because the hour is late. This is true for each person as it is for mankind or the present age. “Speak softly, love, for death is near.” The importance of truth and love becomes clear in light of the nearness of death, or in light of the apocalyptic things, the things of the end, whether our own or that of the present age. In this way the apocalyptic things reveal the truth about us, as well as about the highest things. They have a history, and have “been through that” thing about life being a joke, or of the value of the earth. The final line portrays this truth about the hour, telling that the two riders were seen approaching, and describing the wildness of the night, leading up to the prowling wildcat and howling wind. In the Hendrix version, and in the electric rock mode, and in the music of Hendrix, one can really hear the wind begin to howl.

The Who 1968: The Magic Bus is a beautiful love song about a kid who takes the bus to visit his love, thereby transforming it into the magic bus. “Every day I get in the pew / I get on the bus that takes me to you” The magic hippie bus is of course the magic bus of Kesey and the merry pranksters, which had just become famous in the past two years. He finally resolves to buy the bus, and after negotiating the price, does so. The bus “goes like thunder,” and the guitar peals out like a magic bus transporting us to our love through music, even by the tapping of the drumsticks. But it is especially with Tommy that the Who blossoms into perennial genius, next year.

Janis Joplin: Piece of My Heart

The best songs of Janis Joplin are not written by her, but sound as though they were written for her, and for what she brought to the fusion of rock and blues, or even the culmination of blues in the explosion of emotion allowed for by rock. Her singing comes nearest of all to crying itself, a passion maybe only a woman could express, the human sorrow of a soul so broken against the world that it erupts into song and grieving all at once. Her songs are all tragic and sorrowful, all blues, and in a certain way they bring blues to a fulfillment in the expression, communication and catharsis of human sorrows. Where there is hope, it is the hope within hopelessness, and its beauty is the shimmering beauty amid despair that attends the human condition. Summertime, in her version, may be one of my favorite songs of all, and spinning it at least a few times each summer has become a tradition. The living is easy in summertime, as it is not cold, and there is plenty of work then if ever– a time for solace from the losses of the winter. It is also a time for reflection, and hope for the future: “One of these mornings, / Were gonna rise, rise up singing….spread your wings and fly…take to the sky…That is very nice stuff, against the background of the sorrow of the blues.

“Try a Little Harder,” too sounds like hope amid futility and despair, and surely in hindsight that is how this brief, brilliant star appears. “Piece of my Heart” is an explosion of the emotions of love. The lyrics are credited to Bert Berns and Jerry Raganov. It is explosive in the way that “Somebody to Love,” the Grace Slick song, is explosive, and the two came near in time. Nothing like this had ever been expressed in music before, and its presence in popular music is astonishing. The lover faces the repeated certainty of a broken heart with the courage of a romantic martyrdom, and here too this self sacrifice even of love itself leads to an analogous apotheosis–i.e.– Her self sacrifice as a lover takes her higher. The song cultivates a romantic toughness in the face of love’s torturous pain and sorrow. The one loved is out on the street lookin good,” and deep down knows that it ain’t right.” She then calls for him to hear her sorrow when she cries at night. And then takes the one loved back, only to suffer the certainty of more of the same.

Come on , come on

And take it

take another little piece of my heart now, baby

break it

break another little bit of my heart

Each time I tell myself that I can’t stand the pain

Then you hold me in your arms, and I sing it once again

I want you to come on. come on

Come on, Come on and take it

Well your out on the street looking good

And baby deep down in your heart

I guess you know that it ain’t right

Now but now but now but hear me when I cry at night

Baby, and I cry all the time

But each time I tell myself that I can’t stand the pain

Then you hold me in your arms.

And I sing it once again…

Zeppelin too hit these notes in How Many More Times, of the lover compelled to receive the one loved, who cannot hear them when they cry at night alone.

The Rolling Stones

The example of what was done by the recording industry regarding the Rolling Stones, when it was decided that profits were to be had by the cultivation of some “bad boy” image, seems to show something of the pernicious direction of modern music. The early glittering eros is squashed, and the poet turns from love, as may be shown in “Paint it Black.” “No colors any more” is what is said in a song of some deep depression, in which all the beauty of the world is alien to the poet. Following this period, the great love songs of Jagger and Richards are only sad: “Wild Horses” and “Angie.” In “Wild Horses,” it makes a lot of difference whether the song is sung by the one loved, who is leaving, or rather by the lover who is being left. In the latter case, it becomes a song like “Touch Me in the Morning” or “For the Good Times.” Faith has been broken / Tears must be cried” is a bit coarse if sung by the one who has broken faith. Angie is clearly sung by the one leaving, though its emotion is similarly heart rending.

The early songs of Jagger and Richards are full of beauty and erotic poetry of noble love. One must fall in love with the subject of the portrait “Ruby Tuesday,” and in a way regret that she won’t take a name and settle, though she would not be Ruby if she would. A rainbow of colors is what every lover sees on falling in love, as in the beauty of the vision, the beauty of the one loved becomes visible. The worst critic must be charmed by the childish yet philosophical theme of “Dandelion.” The music, mixing things like harpsichord, oboe, bells and what sounds like toy piano is extraordinarily beautiful and well composed, making a transporting or elevating effect. This transcendent or elevating sound continues to develop in the choir sounds of “You cant Always Get What You Want”. Yet at a certain point, and after the influence of the record industry, this early beauty seems to fade or disappear. It flashes again briefly in what seems to be the Stone’s peak, the sad songs of love’s mortality, like Wild Horses, You can’t always get what you want, or Angie, songs of sorrow and of the end of loves. We will consider the Stones rather in the innocence of their youth. I have a tape made of only the Stones songs that I “like,” and I am quite pleased with these as perennial works of poetry in song. It would be worth considering those I do not like and why, but we’ll have to save this for another occasion. Here, we’ll try to show why these few songs seem especially good.

The Stones are compared to Dylan in writing popular songs with meaningful poetry. An exchange between Jan Werner and Mick Jagger is revealing about what has been occurring in popular music at the start of Classic Rock. When asked about the people who see political or sociological statements in their songs, Jagger answered: “Well, it’s interesting but its just the Rolling Stones sort of rambling on about what they feel.”

Jan: “But no other group seems to do that.”

Mick: “They do, lots of groups.”

Jan: What other group ever wrote a song like “19th Nervous Breakdown,” or “Mother’s Little Helper”?

Mick: “Well, Bob Dylan.”

Jan: “That’s not really the same thing.”

Mick: Dylan once said “I could have written ‘Satisfaction,’ but you could not have written ‘Tambourine Man’

The comment of Jagger is that Dylan was indeed “putting them down,” but “That’s just the way he is.” Jagger thought the Dylan statement “funny” and “great,” or interesting and important. His response is that he’d “like to hear Dylan sing “I can’t get no Satisfaction.” That would indeed be, though not “great,” very funny. “Satisfaction,” was the number one pop song as of 1968. It is a song about the failure of the consumer society to feed the soul, written in and expressing the frustrated mood of the unfulfilled kid in the modern world. The mood is foreign to folk, and the exchange is a revealing about the difference between folk and the newer pop rock. Dylan doesn’t move or dance around as much.

In Ruby Tuesday, she, the rolling stone woman, gives the reason no one can hang a name on her:

 There’s no time to lose I heard her say

Catch your dreams before they slip away

Dying all the time

Lose your dreams and You

Will lose your mind

Beginning late in 1967, the Stones hit some great lyrics, of the order we are looking for. “Dandelion” is about the game played by children where one makes a wish and then tries to blow all the seeds with parachutes off the seeded dandelion flower. Jagger and Richards turn the game into an oracle and something like the journey in the myth of Er that concludes the Republic, in which one can choose one’s life to come, a characteristic of the time of youth, looking out at the possibilities of life.

Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing

Play the game with every flower you bring.

Dandelion don’t tell no lies

Dandelion will make you wise

Tell me if she laughs or cries

Blow away dandelion.

One o’ clock, Two o’clock. Three o’clock,

four o’clock chimes

Dandelion don’t care about the time

Dandelion don’t tell no lies

Dandelion don’t tell no lies

Dandelion will make you wise

Tell me if she laughs or cries

Blow away dandelion.

Little girls and boys come out to play.

Bring your dandelions to blow away.

Dandelion don’t tell no lies

Dandelion will make you wise

Tell me if she laughs or cries

Blow away dandelion.

Though your older now but just the same

You can play the Dandelion game

When your finished with your childlike prayers

Well you know you should wear it

Tinker, Taylor, soldier, sailor’s life

Rich man, poor man, beautiful daughters, wives

Dandelion…

 She’s a Rainbow

The music is that of a music box or toy piano, setting the melody. The mix of violins is irreconcilable with the Jagger of “Street Fighting Man,” etc. It is a vision of the princess:

She comes in colors everywhere

She combs her hair

She’s like a rainbow

Coming colors in the air

and everywhere

She comes in colors

She comes in colors everywhere

She combs her hair

She’s like a rainbow

Coming colors in the air

and everywhere

She comes in colors

Have you seen her dressed in blue?

See the sky in front of you

And her face is like a sail

Speckled white so fair and pale

Have you seen a lady fairer?

Have you seen her all in Gold?

Like a Queen in days of old?

She shoots colors all around

Like a sunset going down

Have you seen a lady fairer?

She comes in colors everywhere

She combs her hair

She’s like a rainbow

Coming colors in the air

Oh everywhere

She comes in colors.

The song belongs to the lyric tradition of poems in praise of one’s lady, of Catullus, Dante and Petrarch, the very medieval tradition parodied by Shakespeare in his Sonnets. The soul, seen in the one loved, appears to the sight of love like a prism for colors, revealing the colors implicit in the light, as is evident when she combs her hair. Love, once thought of as Aphrodite, casts a spell on the visible beauty of the one loved, so that they appear more beautiful to the lover, who thinks everyone must want her. The soul projected makes the beloved appear numinous, a word Jung uses to describe the glowing     of the images. Marc Bolan too thought his love had the universe reclining in her hair. Brian Wilson, too, had noticed “the way the sunlight plays upon her hair” The workings of the imagination in love are akin to the workings of the imagination in poetry, and the sight of the lover akin to the sight of the poet. The poems provide a glittering pathway for the ascent of eros. Hence, when she is dressed in blue, she is like the sky, and her face a sail for soaring, or the sailing of the poet’s ship. And in gold, she is like a late Medieval or Renaissance queen, as the true royalty of the best souls reflect the light of the sun, spread out through the creation and so made visible like the light at sunset.

The musicians themselves begin to dabble directly in things diabolical, if somewhat as teenagers play with Oija boards. One gets the impression that they do not really take these things seriously or even genuinely believe that these things exist. Usually the musicians seem to be using the Satanic theme to sell records. Even while the musicians themselves were rarely true believers,[10] this cultivation, begun in the rebellious songs and movies of the fifties, was developed into an explicit adherence to the diabolical. A Band named itself “Black Sabbath,” and soon AC/DC would sing of being on the “Highway to Hell.” One expects that Mr. Angus would be surprised if he truly has arrived there. For his sake, we hope that his fashion genius regarding the schoolboy suit-shorts works to his benefit with St. Peter, and he will at least make Purgatory. Even when the old Bluesmen like Robert Johnson talk of the musician making a pact with the devil in exchange for the ability that brings worldly fame, one does not quite think that they themselves believe what they are saying. There is, though, a more common or everyday sense in which we let go one thing to develop another, and maybe if ones goal is worldly fame from musical virtuosity, at some point the soul is let go. In each of the arts, as in Ballet, there is a point where one must become inhuman in order to be the best, as wrestlers practice weight loss for an artificial reason, at the expense of the true best. Aristotle mentions something of this sort in the music section of his Politics, since music education is not only for its own sake, but has a place in the whole of education.

Nor can we take at face value his apology and request from “Monkey Man” that they hope they are not too “Messietic or a trifle too Satanic / Just let me sing the blues.” But Mick Jagger cannot possibly be satanic. Still, one wonders what explanation might be given for the title of the album “Satanic Majesties Request.” The producer Oldham is said to have wished to make an image contrary to the Beatles, of bad kids,[11] rather than McCartney, who sings like a choirboy and looks like the pure kid on the old Velvet peanut butter label. There is surely not a single diabolical statement on the album. Nor is his poetry especially that of a believer, but it does not have to be. He can be allowed simply to sing the blues.

 Sympathy for the Devil

In this song Mr. Jagger demonstrates a profound understanding of evil in political history. He could not possibly be an advocate in sympathy with the Devil, unless he were indeed so wicked as to advocate the worst regimes the earth has ever seen, the Communist and Nazi, regimes guilty of more deaths than any in the history of the world. Jonathan Cott, in his preface to the 1975 Rolling Stone interview of Jagger, suggests that the Stones “attacked the vice of the spirit of society itself in such songs as Sympathy for the Devil and 2000 Man.” The song presents the Devil as a dramatic character. In his plea for sympathy, this character reveals things about the nature of the diabolical and its involvement especially in the politics of the Twentieth Century.

Please allow me to introduce myself

I’m a man of wealth and taste

I’ve been around for a long long year

Stolen many a man’s soul and faith

I was around when Jesus Christ had his moments of doubt and pain

Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet You / Hope you guess my name

But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

In the first set of eight lines, the Devil introduces himself. Contrary to our mythical expectation of an obvious ugly beast, he is, like Goethe’s Mephistophiles, a refined character. As Edgar, in disguise, says in Shakespeare’s King Lear, “The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman” (Act III, iv, 134). He claims to have been around for a long time. Yet it is not clear that he existed as a figure in history until the incarnation, when, as is told in the scriptures, he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4). The song addresses the period of history from this date, early in the first century. He claims to have been present in all the moments of doubt and pain Jesus had, such as the agony in the garden and the entire crucifixion. Throughout the song, he does not claim to have caused or done anything, but only to have been present when humans did certain things. This is a theologically profound point about the character of evil, which in some sense “is not,” or cannot simply and properly be said to exist as the beings or principles do. It may be more like a hole humans fall into, and dependent on humans to have any effect. The name that it is hoped we guess is Lucifer, and the question of the song is that of what on earth it is he thinks he’s up to.

Stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was time for a change

Killed the Tsar and his ministers, Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank, held a General’s rank

When the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you / Hope you guess my name.

Ah what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

The second set of lines jumps immediately to the twentieth century, where he was present in the two forms of twentieth century ideological tyranny, or what has been called “Totalitarianism.” These are the two places where, in addition to stealing souls, the Devil is said to have acted or done something. Though anticipated by aspects of the French Revolution, this new kind of tyranny is a political phenomenon which, , is entirely peculiar to the twentieth century. It is here that we see that Mr. Jagger, or the writer of these words, could not possibly be a Satanist, or a genuine proponent of the Sympathy for the Devil which the main character requests. The Devil was present in the communist revolution of 1917, when the family of Tzar Nicholas was murdered. The family included the prince who would have been the next Tzar, and, most heinously, the princess Anastasia, a young girl shot to death on the orders of the communist revolutionaries, headed by Lenin. Had he lived, he would always have represented a claim of the monarchy contrary to the Communists. The bodies of the prince and princess were apparently located recently, confirming the murder. Stalin took over from Lenin in 1924, and the number of dead, killed by their own government in Russia, averaged about one million per year until the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1989. This pace is about equal to the pace at which the Nazis murdered Jews and others, including German citizens. And it is no surprise, then, when the song shifts abruptly to the claim that he was present as a general in Hitler’s army when the blitzkrieg bombed London and the corpses lay rotting in the camps. Hitler followed the example of Stalin in the organization of the camps, though their residents were not especially the bourgeoisie or the enemies of the communist revolution, but rather the Jews and any others who did not fit into the racial utopia envisioned as the cause for seeking to kill large groups of people. The understanding that both these forms of government were influenced by the presence of the diabolical in an unprecedented way is a profound insight, something most politicians do not see, with rare exceptions such as Winston Churchill. The two are extreme opposites of the political left and right, and enemies, even while sharing certain striking similarities. Both arose out of German philosophy, both are utopian, with the vision based in one case on race and in another on class, held up to move the revolutionaries to what becomes like a diabolic inversion of religious sacrifice inserted into the political realm. The vision of Fatima occurred in 1917 while the Communist Revolution was introducing this new form of tyranny into the world. There is no suggestion that the poet advocates the murders of the princess Anastasia referred to in the song, or that, having revealed the presence of the diabolical in twentieth century history, he could possibly be understood to advocate it. What then could be the meaning of the song or the songwriter, as distinct from the character portrayed in the song?

I watched with glee while your kings and queens fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys” when after all it was you and me.

Let me please introduce myself / I’m a man of wealth and taste

And I lay traps for the troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.

But what’s puzzling you is just the nature of my game.

Meanwhile, most of the world does not see what is occurring. Referring for the first time to a period outside the twentieth century, he says that he looked on while the oblivious monarchs fought wars over gods, or religious doctrines and idolatries that are in fact of human making, not eternal but rather made by man. He claims at least partial responsibility for raising the question of who is the true murderer of the Kennedys, and then says it was after all “You and me.” This at first seems to mean all of us, the many, but on second thought appeared to mean that “you,” or all of us, together with “him,” were the cause. The deep truth here is that the diabolical is effective only because of the people (apparently because “it” does not strictly speaking exist without the malice of humans to give it what effect it has.) Assuming that there is not some more particular reference, troubadours are the medieval poets of courtly love, or the writers of love songs. Bombay is the capital of India, the spiritual destination of the love poets, similar to the other shore as discussed above. The devil is opposed to the goal of the lovers or love poets, and says he lays traps for them, or that he has laid the traps for those who do not make it to India. You see, the troubadour Jagger is not confused about the subject he is addressing, and the song intends to convey this caution of one who knows what they are dealing with.

 Just as every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints,

as heads is tails, just call me Lucifer / ‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint.

So if you meet me have some courtesy have some sympathy and some taste

Use all your well learned politesse or I’ll lay your soul to waste.

Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name

But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

The fourth set of lines is a proper conclusion, in which the character helps out the one addressed by giving us his name. The set begins with another of the song’s profound points in the theological understanding of evil and the human soul: Human virtue or goodness usually depends on the inner opposition to the bad or vicious, and he claims that every cop is in a way a repressed criminal, or something of the sort. Jung explains that the cultivation of perfection leads to or is accompanied by a corresponding shadow that accumulates in the unconscious (Answer to Job). All the sinners are then said to be in the same way saints in the opposite or upside-down world of Lucifer. A curiosity of history is that Stalin and Lenin were both failed students of the priesthood. He tells us to call him this as if the name will limit or restrain him, all other limits or restraints having disappeared with the supposed realization that virtue is really vice, or is accompanied by vice. One even wonders if we, or human beings, do not give these things existence by naming them, in which case the character has tricked humans into giving existence to one who otherwise would not be. Attempting to restrain it, we focus on it rather than the good, fueling it with our opposition, giving “it” an existence it otherwise would not have (Revelation 17:8). Evil in its mythical forms is not real, but has effect only through humans, who fall into it as into a cavern or pit. The opposite truth is how the divine has no visible or particular form, at least in our contemporary world, except through the members of what is something like the body of the Lord.

The set and the song ends with a warning: If we meet him, we ought be very courteous, sympathetic and tasteful, summoning all our “well learned politesse” or cautious politeness, or he will destroy our souls. The word “politesse” enters the English language from the French, and means politeness, usually with a derogatory connotation of false appearance or courtly flattery. It can also refer to prudence or practical wisdom, as distinct for example from “letting it all hang out.” The diabolical identifies all political virtue with mere appearance, and as a “gentleman,” shares in common with the genuine statesman a mastery of appearance. The diabolic assumption that there is no more to the gentleman than the artificial will, however, be tested by the consequent events, as in King Lear. We are told to use all our well learned politesse, or he will lay our souls to waste.

Here again, then, though not as dramatically as in the case of “Louie, Louie,” we see a surprising depth to the lyrics of our music, a high and uncommon meaning that is not pernicious, but rather understands and genuinely warns against things truly evil. Mr. Jagger is said to hold a Masters degree in Political economy, which would have brought him a familiarity with these things, though we’d be surprised if the insight underlying this song were present in the curriculum, and not the poet’s own profundity.

 Donovan 1968: Wear Your Love Like Heaven Hurdy Gurdy Man

Color and sky plush and blue

Scarlet fleece changes hue

Crimson ball sinks from view

Wear you love like heaven

Wear your love like heaven

Lord, kiss me once more

Fill me with song, Allah

Kiss me once more

That I may

That I may

Wear my love like heaven

Wear my love like heaven

Color sky Havana lake

Color sky rose col methane

Ali Zari and crimson

Lord, kiss me once more, fill me with song, Allah

Kiss me once more, That I may, That I may

Wear my love like heaven

Can I believe what I see?

All I have wished for will be

All of our race proud and free

The song begins in rapt watching of the sunset. The seer of the sunset calls “Lord, kiss me, and fill me with song, that I might wear my love like heaven,” and calls us to do likewise. The source of music and source of our potential adornment with love like heaven is the same, and watching the colors of the sunset calls this to mind. The name of the Lord is also Allah, and of course there is only one, if there are many names. Indeed, there is no God but God, and to make him one of his names, or to exclude one of his names, is idolatry.

Jimmi Hendrix 1968

The biography: we cannot overestimate how spiritually radical, and not only how musically radical, was this wild black American psychedelic rocker from Seattle. Voodoo Child is my favorite Hendrix song musically and among the best lyrically though the words are very simple: he chops the mountain down with a stream of music as had never been before. :

 Well I stand right next to a Mountain

Chop it down with the edge of my hand.

Pick up all the pieces and make an Island

[and raise a little sand ?]

Cause I’m a Vodoo Child, Voodo Child

Lord knows I’m a Vodoo Child

I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time

I’ll give it right back to you one of these days

If I don’t see you no more in this world, I’ll meet you in the next one, and don’t be late

Don’t be late.

Since he did die young, the song takes on the foreshadowing quality of MLK’s I Have Been to the Mountaintop speech. Hendrix as poet chops the mountain that was the former world, and out of the pieces makes a new place of habitation, like an island in the sea. One wonders if this spiritual radicalism, his wild magic art, is the life of the immortal man, as he seems very firm and serious about the next world. That he will return time taken is a difficult riddle. He will help us to get there on time.

His performance of Voodoo Child at Woodstock in 1969 might be the peak of rock music. 

Castles made of Sand

Down the street I can hear her scream “Your a disgrace”

As she slams the door on his drunken face

And now he stands outside

And all the neighbors start to gossip and drool

He cries” Oh girl, you must be mad

What happened to the sweet love you and me had

Against the door he leans and starts a scene

And his tears fall and burn the garden green

And so castles made of sand

Fall into the sea

Eventually

A little Indian brave who before he was ten

Played war games in the woods with his friends

And he built up a dream that when he grew up

He would be a fearless warrior Indian King

Many moons past and more

The dream grew strong until

Tomorrow he would sing his first war song

And fight in his first battle

But something went wrong, a surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night

There was a young girl whose heart was a frown

Cause she was crippled for life

And she couldn’t speak a sound

And she wished and prayed she could stop livin

So she decided to die

She drew her wheelchair up to the edge of the shore

And to her legs she smiled, you won’t hurt me no more

But then a sight she’d never seen made her jump and say

Look a golden-winged ship is passing my way

And it didn’t have to stop, it just kept on goin

And so castles made of sand

Slip into the sea

Eventually

If Six were 9:

I’m the one who has to die when its time for me to die

So why don’t you let me live my life

The way I want to

Against the background of death, the priorities like liberty appear, or as in Dylan’s Watchtower, because the hour’s getting late. This fits well with the Dylan lyric at the end of Watchtower, as liberty, like speaking truthfully, are priorities that appear in their true light. It is not exactly self preservation that sets rights above duties, but the fact of our imminent death.

 Angel

Angel came down from heaven yesterday

She stayed with me just long enough to rescue me

And she told me a story yesterday

About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea

And then she spread her wings high over me

She said she’s gonna come back tomorrow

And I said fly on my sweet angel

Fly on through the sky

Fly on my sweet angel

Tomorrow I’m gonna be by your side.

Sure enough, this morning came onto me

Silver wings silhouetted ‘gainst a child’s sunrise

And my angel, she said onto me

Today is the day for you to rise

And then she spread her wings high over me

And she took me high over yonder

And I said fly on my sweet angel

Fly on through the sky

Fly on my sweet angel

Forever I’m gonna be by your side..

Tomorrow is after death, and the angel comes and takes him into eternity

Robin Gibb I Started a Joke

I started a joke which started the whole world crying

Oh, But I didn’t see that the joke was on me

I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing

Oh if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes

And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

So I finally died, which started the whole world living

Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes

And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I said

Till I finally died, which started the whole world living

Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

On, no that the joke was on me

This is a very hard song to read, and we will try to comment on it in a way that does not detract from the meaning. At any rate, we are the “listeners themselves” who “have to try to interpret it themselves.” The inspired song came to him following a bit of nervous collapse, and he heard the melody in the four engines of a plane he was riding in. Were he not a wealthy songwriter, he might be considered abnormal and drugged. The reaction to things said, that these made him fall out of bed and hurt his head, is like things said in awakened states, and the way these things can grate one as they come back later upon reflection, in a sort of hyper-conscience. Socrates said he had a little man at home who would beat him with a stick over things he had said during the day. The things he said, in line four, may be the joke that opens the song.
That the joke started the “whole world” crying is difficult, and in trying to understand the universal effect, people have mentioned Jesus, the Devil and Hitler. Another possibility is that the Joke is this song, which everyone in the world has now heard. In 1967-8, he may be introducing a new kind of despair into the expression of ballads, as such things were not said in public previously. But in what way is the Joke on him? He had gone into a fit where he could not stop crying, after being in a train wreck, and the joke being on him would fit with the sorrow expressed by inspiration in the song shattering his soul a bit, as it does to see the deeply sad things covered over so we can just get through our days.
If one will look at the skies and run their hands over their eyes, one will see the meaning of this line a bit: it is an involuntary gesture of anguish universal to man, as is waving and such. It means that we look to the highest things for an explanation, and clear our eyes as though they must be blurred over, given what we are seeing. They had just done the song about the mining disaster, for example, then he saw the train wreck and was unable to help. Mary Lee Foote, at NaPathon.net, mentioned above, reads his falling out of bed to mean “out of his dream state into reality.” Has he seen the principle of tragedy, that Providence upholding the just is not what the world is about, or is not quite what is going on here ?
That his death starts the whole world living is indeed like Jesus, but is also like the poet, whose “words trickle down from a wound” he has “no intention to heal.” The alienation of one whose joke makes everyone else cry, and whose death to live. The “schizophrenic” can be that alone, that alienated from human community, which makes even parrots pull out their feathers. That the joke is on him, though, may be that the sorrow he saw brings him down, and this is part of the principle of tragedy that he has seen.

Below we will consider two songs from 1972 that are among the saddest ever written, O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally” and Nilsson’s “Without You,” both about Romantic despair. Robin Gibb again wrote “How can You Mend a Broken Heart,” filling out about one half of the list for the ten most despairing or saddest songs.

 

1969

After a brief lull in the prolific production of the rock bands in 1968, a sudden flourish began in 69 and continued without letting up until about 1975. In 69, The Beatles released Abbey Road, The Who, Tommy, Led Zeppelin emerged with I and II, Elton John produced his first album with Bernie Taupin, so that the music of the seventies begins already in 1969. The date always makes us think of Iggy’s “1969.” But this was not just another year. Drugs began especially to ravage the music industry, as Cocaine and Heroine took over from the drugs more common from 65-68. The close of 1969 saw the dramatic end of the sixties, with the Manson murders in August and the Stones disaster at Altamont in December. The music continues, blossoming into a second flourish. The question of the diabolical continues, as Jimmy Page enters the popular scene, and the music otherwise too becomes higher and deeper, setting the direction that rock would take in the seventies. At the same time, it seems to us that some of the highest lyrics ever to be popular were then on the Radio stations.

 Pop: Crimson and Clover 1969

Tommy James did not himself know the meaning of the phrase or image of Crimson and Clover when he wrote it, he just knew it sounded good. In an internet posting, at songmeanings.com, it is written

Tommy James constructed this song from his favorite color and his favorite flower In our interview…he told us: “They were just two of my favorite words that came together. Actually, it was one morning as I was getting up out of bed, and it just came to me, those two words. And it sounded so poetic,. I had no idea what it meant, or if it meant any thing…

So the song fits well to demonstrate our theme, that the best songs come by a kind of inspiration. The song is short or minimal, a mere eight lines, if the refrain is counted as one. It is about the beginning of falling in love. But psychedelia has opened pop music to love as a spiritual experience. The song came out at the cusp of the change from singles to albums in the music business generally, the rapid filtering down of what had occurred with Brian Wilson and the Beatles with Sergeant Pepper in the previous year. The lyrics are these:

Well I don’t hardy know her

But I think I could love her

Crimson and Clover

If she come walkin’ over

I been waitin’ to show her

Crimson and clover

Over and over

My minds such a sweet thing

I wanna do everything

What a beautiful feeling

Crimson and clover

Over and Over

(Tommy James / Peter Lucia Big Seven Music Corp. BMI c. 1987 Roulette Records ABZ Music Corp.)

The song reveals a great complexity within this eight line simplicity. “Crimson and Clover” is synonymous with his love. In the second set of lines, it is what he has been waiting to show her, and in the first set of lines it is an expression synonymous with “I think I could love her.” The beginning of love is at once a discovery of his mind, and it is in a way this that he has to show her. At the beginning of love, there is a phase where the mind is especially alive, and the senses most alert. It is an awakening to life, to doing, to virtue, to be worthy of one’s love, and to the good in the world, and it is this he means by the beautiful feeling of wanting to do everything, and this is in the context of the discovery of the sweetness of the life of the mind. He is thinking of the flower of the clover, but there is a possible reading of the symbol which says that Red and the trinity of the clover leaf are the two of love, which as it unfolds for the image of God is the red of the sacrifice of love and the revealing or gift of the mind in love, which is what he has been waiting to show her. The love in us is not the same as the “ego,” or the mind in that sense, but something like the pure mind of each that we grow into. The sacrifice is the earthly part of love, while the heavenly is the clover, the image of the trinity. This direction appears all the more possible since other Tommy James songs, the explicitly eucharistic “Sweet Cherry Wine” and the utopian “Crystal Blue Persuasion” are at once hippie lyrics and some of the most explicitly Christian poetry in all of popular music.

 1969 Youngbloods: Get Together (Chet Powers, 1964)

Love is but the song we sing

Fear’s the way we die

You can make the mountains ring

Or make the angels cry

Know the bird is on the wing

And you need not know why

 

C’mon people now

Smile on your brother

Everybody get together

Try to love one another

Some will come and some may go

We will surely pass

When the one that left us here

Returns for us at last

We are but a moment’s sunlight

Fading in the grass

C’mon people now

Smile on your brother

Everybody get together

Try to love one another

If you hear the song I sing

You will understand

You hold the key to love and fear

All in your trembling hand

Just one key unlocks them both

Its there at your command

[Refrain]

The opposites are not love and hate, but love and fear, a sympathetic understanding of hate, which has at least some truth. The song is addressed, in 1964, to the musicians. Love is the song they sing, and they can make the mountains ring with music, and bring pure souls to tears. That the bird is on the wing is a calling to these poets at this time, as the soaring spirit is even now aloft. The one that left us here and will return for us in the end is God or Jesus. The rapture is surrounded by images of our mortality: We will pass, and are likened to a moment’s sunlight fading in the grass, which is itself proverbially withering.

Bridge Over Troubled Water is one of the best end-of-a-love songs, and of all our songs, especially for showing the way through love to high and gracious emotions of friendship where consolation is found by being given, and the loss can be overcome, if never remedied.

When your weary

Feelin small

When tears are in your eyes;

I’ll dry them all

I’m on your side

When times get rough

And friends just can’t be found,

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

When your down and out

I’ll take your part

When darkness comes

and pain is all around

Like a Bridge over troubled water,

I will lay me down.

When your down and out

When your on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

Like a Bridge over troubled water

Sail on Silver girl

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams come their way

See how they shine

Oh if you need a friend

And sailing madly by

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind.

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind.

Two things commentary can indicate are the similarities to the teaching of Jesus of the greatest love, he who lays down his life for his friend (John 15:12-15). The second is the symbol of the bridge, which is how one crosses to the other shore of a river. One wishes to feel this for those we have loved and lost, because it is an example of how the better souls feel at such a thing. It is a good example of what one might mean when he says he will love her forever: even where the love is not returned. His love is, truly beyond self interest, he wishes her good for its own sake, and lays himself down for his friend. So friendship is higher than love, and is the highest part of love.

The Doors 1969

The doors album that I like the most is Waiting for the Sun (1969). “Hello, I Love You” is the big hit from this album. The original impulse of the band, and the youthful contact through love with beauty. This is where The Doors shine. “Hello, I Love You,” “Love Street,” “Wintertime Love,” the beautiful guitar in Spanish Caravan, and the loss of love song “Yes, The River Knows,” these are the poetic pinnacle of Morrison and the Doors.

I can’t see your face in my mind I can’t see your face in my mind Carnival dogs consume the lines Can’t see your face in my mind Don’t you cry, baby, please don’t cry, And don’t look at me with your eyes, I can’t seem to find the right lie, I can’t seem to find the right lie Insanity’s horse adorns the sky, Can’t seem to find the right lie, I won’t need your picture until we say good-bye

Summer’s Almost Gone

Summer’s almost gone,

Summer’s almost gone,

Almost gone, yeh its almost gone

Where will we be when the summer’s gone?

Morning found us calmly unaware,

Noon burned gold into our hair

At night we swam the laughing sea

When summer’s gone where will we be?

Summer’s almost gone

Summer’s almost gone

We had some good times but their gone

The winter’s coming on, summer’s almost gone

Wintertime Love

Wintertime winds blow cold this season,

Falling in love, I’m hopin to be

Wind is so cold, is that the reason

Keeping you warm, your hands touching me

Come with me, dance, my dear,

Winter’s so cold this year

You are so warm, my wintertime love to be

Wintertime winds, blue and freezin,

Coming from northern storms in the sea

Love has been lost, is that the reason

Trying so desperately to be free.

The River Knows

Please believe me The river told me Very softly Want you to hold me Free fall flow river, Flow on and on it goes, Breathe under water till the end Free fall flow river, Flow on and on it goes, Breathe under water till the end Yes the river knows Please believe me, If you don’t need me I’m going but I need a little time, I promised I would drown myself in mystic heated wine Please believe me The river told me Very softly Want you to hold me I’m going but I need a little time, I promised I would drown myself in mystic heated wine.

The image Morrison would present is not like one who pauses to be wounded in love, but we would argue that some such thing is evident at the root of his music.

Tommy 1969

Rock opera is potentially a quantum leap in the art, though one that was not taken. Drama, as Aristotle explains, is the highest imitative art form, and it is clear upon reflection that all music has a dramatic intention. Every human articulation wants to be part of a drama, which would fully show the human histories imagined or involved. Aristotle writes that drama is the highest art form (Poetics). The move from music to drama is like a move from two to three dimensions, as is evident in the move from the treatise to the Platonic dialogue, showing the speeches with the body.

Pete Townsend is Tommy, and the pinball wizard is the rock star. That much seems obvious, though it won’t occur to us, as it did not to Pete himself, until we think about it. He is also the questing mod of Quadrophenia, and the genius behind the writing of the Who. Townshend himself had to think about this one, as Jessica Siegel writes:

Originally, Townshend said he conceived of pinball as a metaphor for the hypocrisy of institutionalized religion, a topical theme in the 1960’s. With hindsight, he sees that pinball was really a stand in for rock and roll. The pinball machine was a fender Stratecaster guitar. And he was Tommy Walker.

And Siegel then quotes Townshend:

 When you have time to look back on your work, you suddenly think, ‘My God, I didn’t realize I was wearing my heart on my sleeve to that extent.’ I went into a kind of shock…In actual fact, what I had done was told my (expletive) life story and projected it into the future.

 The Chicago Tribune, Sunday section

Tommy is apparently a British legend surrounding the son of a World War I soldier, reported killed in action, who returned by surprise and was murdered by his wife’s new husband or lover. Townshend writes that for the movie, the circumstance is reversed, so that the father is killed in the movie, while the wife’s lover is the one killed in Tommy. The circumstance is similar then to Casablanca, where Humphrey Bogart falls in love with supposed war widow Lauren Bacall, and demonstrates noble action in the circumstance, in the end. Yet here in Tommy, in the movie, the lover responds tragically, killing the lawful husband from the unwillingness to give up his new love. On the album, then, the character is not the stepfather, but the father with a murderous secret. In his book (p. 261), Townshend discusses the change:

One of the first changes Ken (Russell, the director) wanted to make was to nudge the story towards a kind of mnodern version of Hamlet, with the lover of Tommy’s mother killing Tommy’s father- rather than the other way around, as on the album. I was concerned about thios at first, then I saw the dead father would become a symbol of Tommy of the “master” he sees in his dreams.

The lover is first shown in the optimism of this new love, and the first breaking through of beautiful poetry occurs in the lines of the lover: “Got a feelin’ twenty one is gonna be a good year / Especially if you and me see it in together.” The love is genuine, and so tragic, when it apparently leads him to kill the true father of Tommy when he returns. The stepfather or father character is ambiguous, and we are made sympathetic with him even while he is the murderer, the cause of his blindness, and the master of the bungling attempts at securing the cure and salvation of Tommy. Tommy sees the murder, and is told he did not see and hear it. The result is a psychosomatic blindness and deafness that is like autism. Also like some autistic children, Tommy shows certain rare abilities. With some it is music, some math. For him it is to be pinball wizard, apparently through sensation felt as musical vibration. On one hand, the equation of sense and music is strange, because while he can feel, he is deaf, and would only produce music from his understanding of sound before the trauma.

Yet there is something more to Tommy than pinball, just as there is something more to Townshend than music. The song “The Amazing Journey” completes the work of the first of the four sides of the double album, which is our introduction to the character and background of Tommy. Tommy lives at age ten in a world of sensory deprivation:

Deaf Dumb and blind boy

He’s in a quiet vibration land

Strange as it seems, his musical dreams

Ain’t quite so bad

Tommy is like Helen Keller in American history, blind and deaf, limited to touch. As in her case, the story is in part about her breaking through. In the Rolling Stone interview, conducted when Townsend was still working on Tommy, he describes the idea:

It’s a story about a kid that’s born deaf, dumb and blind, and what happens to him throughout his life. The deaf, dumb and blind boy is played by the Who, the musical entity. He’s represented musically, represented by a theme which we play, which starts off the opera itself and then there is a song describing the deaf, dumb and blind boy. But what its really all about is the fact that because the boy is D, D & B, he’s seeing things basically as vibrations which we translate as music That’s really what we want to do: create this feeling that when you listen to the music you can actually become aware of the boy, and aware of what he’s all about, because we are creating him as we play.…

Townshend emphasizes that what he really likes, or finds endearing is that

 Inside, the boy sees things musically, and in dreams, and nothing has got any weight at all. He is touched from the outside and he feels his father’s touch, but he interprets them as music. His father gets pretty upset that his kid is deaf, dumb and blind. He wants a kid that will play football and God knows what.

In the interview, there is yet no hint of the mysterious origin of the inner block of Tommy, the concern with Christmas and salvation, the vision that begins the amazing journey, nor of the pinball wizard parallel with the phenomenon of the cult rock star. Tommy is beaten by his father and molested by his uncle, and interprets these sensations as sound vibrations, or musically, without association to “sleeziness” or “any of the things normally associated with sex. It is meaningless, as it is in such actual instances, “you just don’t react.” The sensory deprivation of Tommy is at points related to literal traumas of the soul. He manages to hear his own name, “Tommy,” and “gets really hung up on” it. “He decides that this is the king and this is the goal, Tommy is the thing, man.” (p. 99). Similarly, when he sees his own image in the mirror,

…suddenly seeing himself for the first time; he takes an immediate back step, bases his whole life around his own image. The whole thing then becomes incredibly introverted and he starts to talk about himself, starts to talk about his beauty. Not knowing, of course, that what he saw was him, but still regarding it as something which belonged to him, and of course it did all of the time anyway…

Here the interview breaks off into a different direction, Townsend complaining that he does not “feel at all together.” What he has in the mirror was himself. But does Townsend think that the tall stranger with the silver gown and golden beard is, similarly, himself? And if not, what does he think it is?

His condition allows the perception of musical dreams from within, and this also leads to bold thoughts, wisdom and simplicity, as if demonstrating the theory that we are corrupted by our experience and by the outside world, yet perfected in mind and the imagination by music and thought, or, by what arises from within. He retains an inner simplicity uncorrupted, but this is only the beginning of the amazing journey, what makes him open to it. The paradox of this openness to the inner things through mental and physical defects is stated directly:

 Sickness will surely take the mind

Where minds can’t usually go

Come on the amazing journey

And learn all you should know

His sensory deprivation is the result of a sickness, yet this very sickness allows him access to the inner school. Sometimes our defects prove our commodities, as Shakespeare’s Gloucester says (King Lear, IV, i, 19-21). His inner world of musical dreams and bold thoughts in the pursuit of wisdom prepares him for the psychic experience or vision of the wizard, a manifestation of what Jung would call the archetype of the Wise old man:[12]

A vague haze of delirium

creeps up on me.

All at once a tall stranger I suddenly see.

He’s dressed in a silver sparked

glittering gown

And his golden beard flows nearly down to the ground.

This is a vision or visitation. The wise man is not an actual person, such as Socrates, because humans are not wise. Our particular teachers, though, might embody or make manifest the wise man that is the guide, and our relations with them makes the archetype active in our lives. The figure is like a combination of Merlin, the ancient British seer, and John’s vision of Jesus at the opening of the Revelation. His gown is silver and his beard gold, or he is clothed in the spirit and has grown wisdom. Before elaborating further on the figure, two sets of lines repeat the points, adding that his deprivation of sight and hearing leads him to convert sensation into music, and that it is sickness that takes the mind where minds can’t usually go, opening the way to the amazing journey. In a final set of lines, he then elaborates regarding the wise man:

His eyes are the eyes that transmit all they know

Sparkle warm crystalline glances to show

That he is your leader

And he is your guide

On the amazing journey together you’ll ride.

His eyes transmit knowledge. The seeker knows that he is the leader or guide because the crystalline glances or the divine glance of one whose sight is the light, are also “warm,” or yet friendly and welcoming to the human seeker. This figure will accompany Tommy on the amazing journey that is to follow, as everyone around him attempts to treat his soul and his condition.

The journey first concerns the question of salvation and a series of traumatic unfortunate encounters with the Hawker, Cousin Kevin, the Acid Queen and Uncle Ernie. The Hawker is like a pimp who presents the woman that is his whore as having the power to bring eyesight to the blind and make the deaf able to hear. It turns out the step father in the dual father figure represents conventional or even Anglican Christianity. It follows that the sensory deprivation of Tommy may be like the alienation of the inspired musician from both the conventional and the radical forms of spirituality.

The father or step father is, as has been noted, strangely presented sympathetically. His poem on Christmas morning opens the second disk. This song demonstrates the meaning of certain aspects of Christmas, as the background of his concern for the salvation of Tommy. I like to play the song around Christmas for its explanation of the meaning of gift giving:

 Did you ever see the faces of the children

The get so excited.

Waking up on Christmas morning

hours before the winter sun’s ignited.

They believe in dreams and all they mean

Including heaven’s generosity

Peeping round the door to see what parcels are for free

In curiosity.

The meaning of dreams includes the generosity of heaven, and the children anticipating Christmas believe in the meaning of dreams. Their excited curiosity anticipates the curiosity that leads adults to the true beneficence of heaven. When humans give gifts to one another, we embody and recall the generosity of the heaven, and gifts from heaven’s overflow, as the winter’s sun will soon light Christmas morning. The poetry is beautiful here beyond commentary, and, once again, demonstrates a rare understanding of the meaning of the Christian things embodied in the bungling father.

The father, having just described the meaning of Christmas, complains that Tommy doesn’t know what day it is. / Doesn’t know who Jesus was or what prayin’ is.” He asks, “How can he be saved?” emphasizing “From the eternal grave.” Salvation is made possible by the knowledge of what day it is,[13] or what Christmas day is, and this is identified with the visible light: “How can men who’ve never seen light be enlightened?” The quest for a cure for the blindness and deafness of Tommy thus becomes identified with the goal of enlightenment or the salvation of his soul.

Meanwhile, Tommy within is singing “See me, feel me / Touch me, heal me.” The song therefore does have something to do with the reaching up to Jesus, a dual meaning that accompanies the more direct meaning for many listeners. It is the longing of our souls for the healing of the divine, in whatever form this reaching arises.

Before the crisis and attempted cure, Tommy is abused by the bully babysitter Cousin Kevin. Tommy is then apparently given acid. The experience is symbolized in the image of a night locked in a room with a sadistic Gypsy whore. After the experience, the innocence of the boy is gone, having had his soul torn apart. He is told to gather his wits and hold on fast, “Your mind must learn to roam” Her work done, she says he’s “Never been more alive,” while he is shaking his head and clutching his fingers with his body writhing. Her night with him is like a rendezvous “guaranteed to break your little heart.” Townsend and the Who are the most anti-drug of the Rock bands, apparently having overcome the mod fascination with leapers and alcohol. This would be the most negative presentation of LSD as a path to enlightenment of any of the rock bands. The position is for example opposite the Grateful Dead and others on the matter.

The third disk opens with the molestation of Tommy by his wicked uncle Ernie, with whom his parents have left him as a sitter. This is somehow the prelude to the Pinball Wizard. Has he discovered sensation and response through sexuality, though perverted by Uncle Ernie? Since such things are fundamental traumas of deep and lasting impact, does he again succeed in making lemonade from the lemons life gives him? The connection between Ernie and pinball is underlined later when Ernie reappears at Tommy’s Holiday camp to guide the recruits to their very own machine.

The story of the pinball wizard is told through the eyes of a third party, another pinball champion that is defeated by Tommy. Tommy plays by sensation or touch, and the lack of the distractions of sight and sound are said to allow for his astonishing ability at the pinball machine. The song is anthem like because of the phase of our youth in the seventies when pinball was a fashion activity in the social lives of kids down at the arcade, replaced now by video games. Yet, as the further adventures of Tommy will demonstrate, the primary meaning of the pinball wizard is the analogy with the rock star, and the comment of Townsend himself on this phenomenon.

The father, meanwhile, has found a doctor who can cure the deaf dumb and blind pinball wizard. This doctor is considerably more helpful than the doctor in Quadrophenia, who cannot take the meaning of the mods weekend when he tells him during a visit. Here the doctor notes that while tests have shown he does not sense at all, his eyes react to light, and he does physically hear. Meanwhile Tommy within sings “See me, feel me / Touch me, heal me.”

The doctor comments that there is no hope from an operation or any outside stimulation, apparently because the condition is an inner block, and so all hope lies with the action of the patient. Yet he fears the shock from isolation when the boy is suddenly able to hear and speak and see. Tommy continues to sing for healing in his isolation. The doctor then sends Tommy to the mirror.

At the mirror, while his father wonders what is happening in his head, Tommy is apparently in contact with the figure of wisdom that appeared earlier to him. The contact, though, is a little too close, since he apparently becomes possessed by the archetype,[14] and for a while identifies himself with such a figure. He says to what he sees in the mirror:

Listening to you I get the music

Gazing at you I get the heat

Following you I climb the mountain

I get excitement at your feet!

Right behind you I see the millions

On you I see the glory.

From you I get opinions

From you I get the story

Meanwhile the father and mother outside contact the boy. His mother is amazed that he doesn’t respond to her at all, but can apparently see himself, as he gazes at his own reflection. Inside, as we have seen, Tommy is in the presence of the one from whom he gets the music, etc. The figure is especially Christ-like in the second set of lines, as he on whom the glory of the Lord appears and whom one sees the millions following. Is Tommy in direct contact with the Christ? He is also the one whom one follows up the mountain, and the source of the music, which are characteristic of wisdom or the wise old man. His mother becomes angry, and senses that Tommy fears her. She then attempts to compel him to answer, by insisting: “Do you hear or fear or do I smash the mirror?” When he does not respond, she fulfills her threat and smashes the mirror.

In his book, Townshend writes:

I decided my deaf, dumb and blind hero could be autistic. This way, when I wanted to demonstrate the glorious moment of god-realization, I could simply restore my hero the use of his senses. It was a good plan; the boy’s sensory deprivation would work as a symbol of our own every-day spiritual isolation.

(Who I Am, pp.146-147)

The language of “god-realization” comes from Maher Baba, though Townshend’s Tommy is more skeptical of becoming a guru or spiritual leader than it is a “proselytizing vehicle” for the guru.

The result of the smashing of the mirror is that the pinball wizard becomes a “sensation,” something like a rock star, in a very nice double meaning. Apparently this occurs when he can suddenly see, hear and communicate. As the third disc concludes, Tommy overwhelms those he approaches, who hold their breath, and lovers break their embrace to gaze on him. The spirituality of his presence is apparent as their love is enhanced after he has passed by. In the refrain, A new vibration” reminds of the Beach Boys Good Vibrations, a new sound intended to be spiritual sound.

The career of Townshend is carried throughout by his hearing of a celestial music, from the time of his youth. This sound is to music as physical sensation is to the ability of Tommy to play pinball (Who I Am, pp.30-32, 34, 45, 93, 205). It is connected to Jesus and the angelic choir from the time of Townshend’s youth, accounting in part for the strangely sympathetic portrayal of Christmas in Tommy. Townshend (p. 35) writes:

Because of Tril’s faith in me, I became a bit of a mystic like her. I prayed to God, and at Sunday school I came to genuinely admire Jesus. In heaven, where he lived, the strange music I sometimes heard was completely normal.

The new vibration is related to the perfect note, addressed later, and to the single note said by some, both mystics and scientists, to be at the root or basis of the cosmos, whether an Ohm or a note left over from a Big Bang.

The music or notes of these words sound as though they were about to shatter glass, or through some sound barrier to the other or above side. The conjunction of pinball wizard / rock star / religious figure or pop idol / spiritual leader is fulfilled in the lines:

They worship me and all I touch

Hazy eyed they catch my glance,

Pleasant shudders shake their senses

My warm momentum throws their stance…

Refrain…You’ll feel me comin,

A new vibration

From afar you’ll see me

I’m a sensation

I leave a trail of rooted people

Mesmerized by just the sight,

The few I touched now are disciples

Love as one, I am the light…

The second instance of the word “hazy” is a clue. Tommy has become identified with the figure seen apparently through his own image in the mirror. He says, as Jesus did, that he is the light. For Jesus, or the messiah, and for him alone, it is a question whether or not he is correct, or whether this depiction of what he teaches about himself is correct. When other men see themselves and are taken with the beauty of the image of god within, and have seen nothing higher, they can become possessed by the archetype, a content of the collective unconscious, and this is a sort of madness. Yet all the while it may be so that there is something divine in us, that it is our true selves, and that we do not know this very well, nor live much in accordance with it. The wise man is the true self, but it is of course not the Most High.

Jung discusses these in terms of the “ego,” archetypal functions, and the “self.” In some instances, that is, without sacrifice, penance and humility, the ego becomes identified with the “self” in the wrong way. The effect is similar to the image in love, when it is the first hint of the divine or intelligible ever seen. The little self is an image of the big “self,” the soul an image of God, which, if the greater is not seen, allows for the error of megalomania, even of the sort where a guy thinks he’s Napoleon, or a Napoleon that he is “the guy.” The truth is that there is a spark of the divine in man, and that it is our true self, and we might be astonished at the intelligence in us, but “we all shine on” as Lennon said. Still, some are extraordinary, heads above their equal fellows, both by nature and by cultivation.

The third disc ends with the newsboy announcing the miraculous cure of the Pinball wizard. This coincides, as was said, with the sudden fame of the rock star, when he can finally communicate the depth of the thought within, or when the greatness of the inward vision that is at the root of his music seems finally to be received if not understood, or at least to have an impact proportionate to its greatness.

The fourth disc opens with the story of Sally Simpson and her love fantasy regarding the rock star Tommy. Here pinball is explicitly replaced by the rock star and the effect of those like Elvis or the Beatles on the fantasy life of their young female fans. The song is touching, as Townsend writes:

She knew from the start

Deep down in her heart

She and Tommy were worlds apart.

But her mother said never mind your part

Is to be what you’ll be.

Sally of course gets a sixteen stitch gash on her face when she tries to enter her fantasy by jumping onstage, and the result disillusions her, so that she is able to settle for marriage to a real musician aspiring in California.

Meanwhile, a world apart, in the world of Tommy, he is singing of his spiritual discovery that the highest truth is freedom:

I’m free- I’m free,

And freedom tastes of reality,

I’m free, I’m free,

And I’m waiting for you to follow me.

 The center of this song seems to me genuinely profound. It is Townsend’s comment on religion or spirituality of the sort “out here in the fields.” It is spiritual, but free of worldly spirituality, and disdainful of all worldly appearances, including the cult-like gullibility of the followers of the rock musicians like Tommy, in so far as they exercise a spiritual dominion over the youth. Townsend’s genuine message:

If I told you what it takes

to reach the highest high,

You’d laugh and say ‘nothing’s that simple’

But you’ve been told many times before

Messiahs pointed to the door

But no one had the guts to leave the temple!

But there is another thing that gives occasion to comment on Townshend and the Who. There is an attempt of the seeker, in the song named in part after Townshend’s Guru Maher Baba, to find a spiritual basis independent of the Christian or Biblical foundations of Western civilization, which is perceived at the start as bankrupt. The Who, Beatles, Clapton and others attempt to go east for spirituality, rather than do without. The path of rock then becomes a self conscious independent spiritual quest. The ground of this attempt or this quest is what he means by:

Out here in the fields

I fight for my meals.

I get my back into my liv’in

I don’t need to fight

To prove I’m right

I don’t need to be forgiven.

He is out independent in the spiritual fields, and does his own work toiling there. This is another way of saying “no one had the guts to leave the Temple.” He accuses Christendom of sustaining and spreading the religion by force, or associates Christianity with the militarists, as in the Viet Nam war. His spirited denial of the need for forgiveness calls for an apology or explanation. It seems, as a hypothesis, that it is toward other men, and not toward God, that he asserts that he does not need to be forgiven, as a way of climbing out from under the oppressive human authority of the Christian tradition. He does not need to be forgiven for his work out there in the fields, or for the spiritual independence of the seeker. Baba is the name of Townshend’s own guru.

The many say “how can we follow?” and one is reminded of the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, when Brian, for his preaching, is telling the crowd, “You must be individuals. You must think for yourselves,” and the crowd chants after him in unison, “We are individuals. We must think for ourselves.” In Tommy, the many simply cannot follow, any further than the mere repetition of the phrase that they must stop mere repeating. Tommy finds contact with the higher things through his musical dreams because he suffered a trauma that led to a psychosomatic loss of senses. His heightened sensation makes him a pinball wizard, but it is not true that the many can gain the same result by doing the same things, especially if they are not poets or musicians. Both Tommy and the followers confuse the accidental particulars with the higher things revealed through these particulars, demonstrating the universal human propensity to idolatry. So the next song, “Welcome,” depicts a cult-like atmosphere, yet one of drinking all night and never sleeping–one of the clues that it is the cult of the rock star. Their followers are the “comfortable people.” Everyone is welcome to be one of them, the milkman, baker, little old lady, shoemaker. The members gather in others from everywhere, like the expanding of a cult. In an aside that reminds one of a Shakespearean subplot occurring alongside a greater action, even Uncle Ernie has become a P.R. man for Tommy’s Holiday camp. Is there a suggestion that the cult, and the rock and roll scene, is a bit like molestation regarding the gullibility of the mind of the participant?

The rock opera concludes with the revolt of the followers from Tommy’s religion of pinball, or music. This is the apparent answer to what it takes to reach the highest high. Yet after the followers revolt, Tommy, again worlds apart, is in the presence of his visionary wise man, and asking to be healed. The many are freer in revolt, and one hopes the distinction has been restored between Tommy himself and the figure whose glance is light, seen when he first set out on the amazing journey.

The scene opens as Tommy is speaking at the ceremony welcoming followers to the camp. “My name is Tommy, and I became aware this year” This demonstrates that his literal perception– opened when the inner block was surpassed at the smashing of the mirror– is identified with spiritual enlightenment or an opening awareness. But Tommy tells them that if they want to follow him, they have to play pinball. He passes out blindfolds, earplugs and a cork for their mouths.

The difference between his movement and the hippie rock followers becomes apparent when he tells those drinking and smoking pot that that is not the way. Strangely, there is a difference between the written line on the album sleeve, “Hey you smoking mother nature, You missed the bus” and the spoken words recorded, …Hey you…This is a bust.” In the recorded version, the religious movement of Tommy begins to become authoritarian. At this, the followers begin to revolt, saying “we’re not gonna take it.” Tommy then finds them all deaf, speechless and blind from the things he has himself passed out. Pinball is said to complete the scene, and Uncle Ernie enters to guide them to their very own machine. The image is uncertain, but it is likely that the musical path of imitating the particulars of Tommie’s character results in perversity or masturbation. It can be said, though, that the primary meaning of what has occurred as a result of Tommy’s breakthrough into contact with the world is just like the mass result of Townsend’s breakthrough, and the poet is disgusted by these things in our music culture. The followers continue their revolt, saying they do not want religion, as far as they know. They resolve to forsake him, then to rape him, then simply to forget him.

Yet the story does end in the failure of the Holiday camp, but in the glory of the vision of Tommy, and it is these lines that have become the most moving and the most memorable. Finally alone the Opera concludes in Tommy’s solitary epiphany, beginning with his prayer:

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

And concluding with his description that most reminded of the identification of the wise man with the actual Christ, with the glory upon him, followed by the millions:

Listening to you I get the music.

Gazing at you I get the heat

Following you I climb the mountain

I get excitement at your feet!

Right behind you I see the millions

On you I see the glory.

From you I get opinions

From you I get the story.

The interesting elements, to sum up our inquiry, are involved in the question of who or what it is that Tommy addresses when he is praying or asking to be healed, the analogy between pinball and being a rock star, and the comparison of the rock star to a religious cult figure, and therefore rock and roll as a replacement for religion. The rock writer is indeed in touch with something, even due to his inner block, caused by something that is like having been told not to see. What he is in touch with, when he is singing “See me, feel me, Touch me, heal me” is nowhere described more clearly than in the vision described in the “Amazing Journey.” It is somehow both Christian and philosophic or based on the wise man, though it is a free encounter with the concrete divine, rather than the traditional religion of the step-father, who identifies access to salvation with the ability to see the visible regarding Christmas. Simultaneously, the poet’s understanding of the deep and high truth in the celebration of Christmas makes it clear that while it is not the same establishment of religion, the poetry is not opposed to but is ultimately consistent with the truth of that tradition. We have to go all the way to “Love Reign Over Me,” at the end of Quadrophenia, to show this fully.

The final question is the first question: what is the meaning of the murder of his true father by his step father or the murder by his father of the lover of his mother, that caused the inner block and sent Tommy along on the Amazing Journey? Townshend indicates a connection to a personal trauma, and this may be part of what occurs regarding the musician as autistic savant. But following the symbols, we will say that the father figure in Tommy considers how Christian tradition blocked poetry or a high sort of spirituality, allied with wisdom, that is the true inheritance of Britain and the Western world. In the end, this poetry and spirituality is not inconsistent with Christianity, but may even be a fulfillment. The path of Townsend leads to the reign of Love, which is one Christian teaching of what God is. This is found concretely, through the quest, rather than through the mediation of the Temple, as Monks and Essenes seem always to have known. And it may be that Tommy and Townshend are uniquely enduring and inspiring, as though a repressed content of the Western unconscious were what is represented by the Who, with the sharp and pounding drum, wall of sound percussion of Kieth Moon announcing that it will break through, or is breaking through. This, contra Bloom, is what the rebellion of the mod leads to, and, though unknown, has been all about.

Townsend himself comes closest to indicating something like this, even while rejecting attempts at interpretation, when he says in the interview:

…obviously the story has got something to do with your sexual relationship; you know, obviously it’s got some spiritual significance: “does Pete Townsend think he’s Jesus?” or whatever the hang up is, man, it can all be read into it. I’m sure a lot of it is there, but one doesn’t know because one is trying to avoid all this. We, of all people, have got to be afraid of seriousness in the Who, because if we were serious, we’d admit that we don’t like each other. But because were not serious, we don’t have to admit it…

Joni Mitchell

Clouds

The song is based on seeing the same thing, or seeing that the same principle applies to three different topics. The first is a point about the visible world, and follows the analogy of the visible and the invisible into the most important topics of human life, love and friendship.

Rows and flows of angel hair

And ice cream castles in the air

And feathered canyons everywhere

I’ve looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun

They rain and snow on everyone

So many things I would have done

But clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down and still somehow

Its cloud illusions I recall

I really don’t know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels

The dizzy dancing way you feel

As every fairy tale comes real

I’v looked at love that way.

But now its just another show

You leave them laughing when you go

And if you care, don’t let them know

Don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now

From give and take and still somehow

Its love’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know love

At all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud

To say I love you right out loud

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds

I’ve looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange

They shake their heads and say I’ve changed

Well something’s lost but something‘s gained

In living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose

And still somehow

Its life’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know life

At all.

There are three things, clouds love and life, that the poet has looked at from both sides. The two sides of clouds are up and down, of love, give and take, and of life, win and lose. Actually, the two sides of clouds are happy and sad, or partly sunny and raining. Up and down is viewing the clouds also from an airplane. Cloud illusions remind us of the later book by Richard Bach called illusions, in which the characters practice trying to dissolve clouds with their imaginations. The two sides of love, give and take, or lover and beloved, are actually the inspiration of youthful love and what has become the transitory state of adult love, when the illusions and inspiration of youthful love are spent. It has been found dangerous to “give yourself away.” This line is picked up again and is the key to the third stanza, as the topic shifts from love to life in general. To say I love you right out loud is to give yourself away, and is the one side, or the youthful innocent approach to life. It implies tears and fears because it is proud and courageous, entering into life, and she seems to be reminded of setting out into the music business with the dreams and schemes and circus crowds. The other of the two sides of life, in contrast with this innocent approach, is described only by saying that now old friends are acting strange, saying that she has changed.

And so there are three things, clouds, love and life, of which she recalls the illusions involved, and so concludes that she really does not know these things at all. It is like the Socratic ignorance of her conclusion in Woodstock, too, “Where I don’t know who I am, and life is for learnin’.”

 Woodstock

Woodstock sets the occurrence of the sixties in terms of an attempt to return to the garden, even the garden of Eden that forms the Biblical imagination of the original condition of man. The song captures the best impulse of the sixties movement right as it was beginning, The song itself begins with the poetess meeting an individual on his way to the farm that hosted the Woodstock concert. He is described as a child of God, on his way to get back to the land and set his soul free. This is the new and dawning recognition of the divine nature that surrounds the return to nature of the sixties.

Well I came upon a child of God

He was walk’in along the road

And I asked him, tell me, where are you going?

This he told me:

Said I’m go’in down to Yasqur’s Farm

Gonna join in a Rock and Roll band

Got to get back to the land, and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden,

We are billion year old carbon

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Well and can’t I roam beside you

I have come to lose the smog

And I feel myself a cog in something turning

And maybe it’s the time of the year

Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man

When I don’t know who I am

And life is for learning.

We are stardust, we are golden,

We are caught in the devil’s bargain

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock

We were half a million strong

And everywhere was a song and a celebration.

And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes

Flying shotgun in the sky

Turning into Butterflies above our nation

We are stardust, we are golden,

We are caught in the devil’s bargain

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

(c). 1969 by Siquomb Publishing co.

The line “We are billion year old carbon” astonished me, when I looked this one up on the internet. It is similar to Moby’s “We are all made of stars,” with reference to the new astronomy, physics and chemistry that tells of where the elements came from. Stars, it turns out, are the factories of the elements in the periodical chart, beginning with hydrogen and compressing or fusing this into each of the higher elements. A special kind of star, resulting in a supernova, is needed for elements above Iron. But carbon, the sixth element on the chart, is especially the element that is the basic element of life. Carbon and liquid water seem to be the magic ingredients, forming into amino acids. “We are stardust, we are golden.” The Golden element of the soul is the divine in us, the golden stardust. At any rate, the science coexists for the poet with the Biblical understanding of the return to the garden.

There is a difference in the patterns of the fundamental thought regarding whether our recovery of the original condition is a return to the origins or an ascent to a future condition that is higher than the original innocent condition. The New Testament and the Socratic philosophers look to and speak of the end, while Judaism and ancient custom in general sees the condition of human perfection as occurring near to the origins. Rousseau and the secular modern political theorists appeal to an original, pre-political state of nature, and in various ways measure the civil condition by reference to the origins without the ends. The looking to form and to final causes was set aside when the modern thinkers rejected the ancient and medieval thinkers (Philosophy 101). As a result, we have learned much about what things are made of and how they work, though little about what they are and what they are for, and this is decisive when it comes to the study and the life of man. We know what to use and how to effect things without the slightest scientific concern for what we are doing and why, at least so far as scientific education is concerned, and there is some question whether this pose is wise, or based on knowledge, that is, on science in the higher sense.

In Genesis, a cherubim with a flaming sword is placed at the entrance of the garden, to prevent the return of man. The entrance into the New Jerusalem is in a way the recovery of the harmony of the original condition, which we have suggested is what is glimpsed by the lovers in their participation in their love. According to the New Testament, the return to the garden is apocalyptic, that is, if the dream of bombers turning into butterflies pertains not just to the time of the year, but the time of man. It is the same as the beating of swords into plow blades seen by Isaiah *(2:4)

An Anonymous reviewer has printed this on an internet site:

This is the best rock ‘n roll song ever written. Its filled withmetaphysical imagery and spiritual symbols from the bible as well as the latest scientific and cosmological breakthroughs of the times and contains words of prophecy for our times. “The garden” is of course the Garden of Eden, the point where it all started to go wrong for mankind, where we got caught in a bargain between God and the Devil. Why? because God gives all entities free will to everything in the universe, it is a kind of metaphysical law ~ even the devil gets the free will to try and destroy humanity from the inside out. The musical genius Joni Mitchell says we are stardust ~ true, we are composed of the remnants of a supernova explosion 5 or 6 Billion years ago. Anyway, she says write of a vision of all the bombers plains protecting America (“riding shotgun in the sky”) with their nuclear payloads, turning into peaceful butterflies; we must get back to the “garden” of Eden and right whatever it was that we did wrong; somehow know the place for the first time and re-establish a relationship with God that is stronger than our current victim relationship with the devil/and or capitalism/materialism/militarism that ~ the hippies warned ~ will totally destroy humanity if we let it. This captures the message the hippies were trying to tell us all those years ago when I was young ~ 12 years old in 1969 ~ the message is still just as important.

The place in the scripture where God and the devil are shown making a bargain is not in Genesis but at the opening of the book of Job. Job is the most righteous of all mankind, and so Satan asks God “Does Job fear God for naught?” That is, doesn’t he really obey justice for the good things he gets from the Lord, rather than for its own sake? The sufferings of Job are to demonstrate that a man loves justice, or fears the Lord, for its own sake, or because it is right. But as the anonymous comment so nicely states, to say we are caught in the devil’s bargain has to do with our expulsion from the garden, to which we have got to get back. The bargain is that some souls are lost while others freely choose heaven. It is similar to the risk of liberty in America, and the risk of the wild liberty of the sixties. Some of the worst things may emerge, but so will some of the best.

 

CSNY

Déjà vu

On Déjà vu, each member of the group contributes lyric for their harmonizing voices. The title song, is an invocation, setting the tone by reference to the strangeness of the feeling that we have been here, called Déjà vu. “Do you know / Don’t you wonder /what’s goin’ on / Under the ground” and “down under you.” The song, then, evokes the spirituality of the unconscious. The songs then alternate between six love songs and 4 protest songs, related to war or to the new movement. Five of the six love songs are of love that is not returned. So Far might be considered the second part of a double album, since five of the songs on Déjà vu are repeated, with two additional protest songs and three additional love songs.

In the beauty of love in the folk rock strains of CSNY, the argument that our music or rock music is about sex and the liberation of the appetites dissolves. Others have their Marylyn Monroe, but we creatures of the mind and soul have Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and the like for our examples that demonstrate feminine beauty, and these, in place of pinup girls, capture our souls.

The love of Stephen Stills for Judy Collins appears especially interesting. The love was of course unrequited, and our own loves, or the best in them, were sometimes patterned after this love, and often strikingly similar, even in the eighties. And so it is indeed like someone had been there before, and we were not so alone.

Four songs relate to this recently failed love of Steven Stills. The songs Carry on, 4+20, Helplessly Hoping, and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes relate to a hopeless sixties style romance that comes to be the voice of romantic love itself, for the lovers of this generation. It is said that Neil Young also wrote “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” about the Stills affair as well.

 Carry On

The song is that of one getting up after having been left by his love, with the message that love is coming to us all. That we will again be in this love is, like the thought that romantic love continues in the world, one of the thoughts that especially assist lost lovers, like kind animals for one lost in a forest in a fairy tale. He is also strengthened by the thought that this sorrow is but the dues paid by all those who have sung the blues.

One morning, I woke up and I knew you were gone

A new day a new way and new eyes to see the dawn

Go your way, I’ll go mine

To carry on

The sky is clearing and the night has gone out

The sun, it comes, and the world is full of light

The fortunes of fables are able to [see the song]

Now witness the quickness with which we get along

To sing the blues

Youv’e got to live the dues

Carry on

Love is coming

Love is coming to us all.

Where are you going now my love?

Where will you be tomorrow?

Will you bring me happiness?

Will you bring me sorrow?

Oh, the questions of a thousand dreams

What you do and what you see

Lover can you talk to me

Girl, when I was on my own

Chasin’ you down

What was it made you run?

Try’in your best just to get around

All the questions of a thousand dreams

What you do and what you see

Lover, can you talk to me?

The questions of a thousand dreams include first the question of whether she would bring him sorrow or happiness, and second, the same as the question that made her run when he was pursuing her. He wishes he could get her to talk to him. The trouble for her may be that she, like a princess telling the knight to go out and slay the dragon, does not act rationally, or does not herself know why she does what she does. Love does not obligate the one loved to return eternal love, nor can they for choosing. She cannot talk to him, then because she does not herself know what to say. They should not have consummated the love without the courtship of persuasion to permanently forswear all others. Even this is no guarantee. So the hippie lovers get burned, and by the very liberty they love in those they love.

4+20

What makes it difficult to “carry on?” As the next song explains, it is a poverty different from that of his father, the poverty of having no family at all, because his woman has gone.

Four and twenty years ago I come into this life

The son of a woman and a man who lived in strife

He was tired of be’in poor

And he wasn’t into sellin door to door

And he worked like a devil to be more.

A different kind of poverty now upsets my soul

When night after sleepless night I walk the floor and want to know

Why am I so alone

Where is my woman, can I bring her home.

Have I driven her away, is she gone.

Morning comes the sunrise and I’m driven to my bed

I see that it is empty and there’s devils in my head

I embrace the many colored beast

I grow weary of the torment, can there be no peace.

And I find myself just wishing that my life would simply cease

He goes to his empty bed at sunrise. He is confronted there with the devils in his head of the many colored beast. It is this the knight must slay in order to win the princess, or at least to be worthy of her. The many colored beast is the appetite, and the colors suggest that this is something like the shadow of love left in desire after the beloved has disappeared. His wish is for death to end the torment of the inner conflict, and it is in truth ended by the death of all mortal attachment to the world, the death that precedes rebirth.

Helplessly Hoping

A harlequin is a clown, and also the word for a kind of romance novel. She is out, and probably with some other fellow. He is waiting, probably in a home they share, for her to return. His spirit leaps as he thinks he sees her gentle true spirit returning, only be brought down when it becomes apparent she is leaving him.

Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby

Awaiting a word

gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit

He runs, wishing he could fly

Only to trip at the sound of goodby.

Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders

At the empty place inside

Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams

He worries, did he hear a goodby

Or even hello

They are one person

They are two alone

They are three together

They are for each other

Stand by the stairway,

you’ll see something certain to tell you

Confusion has its cost

Love isn’t lying, its loose in a lady who lingers, saying she is lost

And choking on Hello.

They are one person

They are two alone

They are three together

They are for each other

I can still see the stairway on Oaks street in Grand Rapids because of this song. He compares her present necessity of lying with her early appearance of the easy mood of the beginning, and of a lady who lingered, staying around rather than being away. The refrain is the principle of the union of love, that the two become one flesh (Genesis 2:6?), and the love is like a soul, and may become a child. Again the problem with hippie love is that they join with “commitment,” and then are shocked to find the reason for the old laws of courtship, or the tradition against premarital union and adultery: these protect us from psychological circumstances that the lovers cannot themselves foresee, such as the impending complication of jealousy, or the emptiness of losing the lover. In the song, the poet in his emptiness may be perusing her private dream or journal material. He despises himself as heartless, and worries that he saw something there that means she has left him, or perhaps never even loved him.

 Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

It’s getting to the point

Where I’m no fun any more

I am sorry.

Sometimes it hurts

So badly I must cry out loud

I am lonely.

Remember what we’ve said and done and felt about each other

Oh babe, have mercy-

Don’t let the past

Remind us of what we are not now

I am not grieving

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are

You make it hard.

Tearing yourself / Away from me now, You are free, and I am crying

This does not mean I don’t love you, I do, That’s forever

Yes and for always

Something inside is telling me that I’v got your secret

Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart

And I love you

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are

And you make it hard.

Friday evening

Sunday in the afternoon

What have you got to lose?

Tuesday morning

Please be gone I’m tired of you

What have you got to lose

Can I tell it like it is

And listen to me   .

It’s my heart, its dying, and that’s what I had to lose

I’v got an answer

I’m goin to fly away

What have I got to lose

Will you come see me Thursdays and Saturdays

What have you got to lose?

Up to this point, the song is a dialogue, though it is sometimes difficult to identify which lines are spoke by the lover and which by the one loved who is leaving. “This does not mean I don’t love you, I do,” and Please be gone, I’m tired of you” are never spoken by one in love, but one in lover characterizes the words of the one leaving in this way. The rest of the song, though, is spoke by tyhe lover, in a famous description of Judy Collins:

Chestnut brown canary, Ruby throated sparrow

Sing the song, Don’t be long

Thrill me to the marrow.

Voices of the angel

Ring around the moonlight

Asking me, say, she’s so free

How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy lilting lady, losing love , lamenting

Change my life, make it right, be my Lady

The end is in Spanish.

He invites her to come to Cuba and be his lady, but she will not.

There is an effort in the sixties to subordinate love to liberty, or to this freedom, which finds its limit in the proverb of Kristopherson: “freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose.” This reminds of the line in Judy Blue Eyes, “What have you got to lose.” Romantic freedom is the answer of the one loved when they cannot return the love, since for those in love, romantic freedom becomes meaningless. For the lover, the whole world may tend to become meaningless without the one loved. The one benefit of the teaching of the subordination of love to freedom is in the reconciliation of the lover to the consent of the one loved. The difficulty is of course that in most loves, only one is in love in this way, while the other must be persuaded to sacrifice freedom for the love and eternal devotion of the one loving. An additional difficulty, we think, is that these loves are consummated, which for the human being brings about an automatic attachment, at least for the lover, if not also for the beloved, so that in leaving they indeed leave a part of themselves behind. The effect, we hypothesize, is similar to that noted by Konrad Lorenze, when the young ducks are imprinted in their attachment to the mother duck. We say that something similar, but much more vast in its implications, occurs for the human being, with our souls, at the founding of the family. Perhaps swans do the same thing–and this incidentally is what a “Swan Song” is. These unattainable women, Joni Mitchell and Judy, chose a spiritual and artistic liberty that is bound up with their own romantic liberty. It is not clear whether the man they seek is elsewhere or whether the allure of inspiring the higher spirits in serial to wager their souls on these particular beauties is simply too flattering for them to give up.

For Niel Young in “Country Girl,” it is still possible, at the end of the song, that she agree to have no lovers in the city,” or like his later “Cowgirl in the Sand,” even to change her name. Though there does seem to be a certain time in youth that the best lyric inspiration arises, it is possible that Joni Mitchell lost her muse when she left Graham Nash. The time of inspiration is an interesting part of our study, and it appears obvious that these poets are not just capable of writing perennial songs at will, and surely it is not a talent like the trades that develops with experience. Nor is it the case that inspiration is closed off, since it can be rediscovered, though it may be on different themes than the things apparent to youth when they are powerfully moved by love.    One of my favorite internet comments on Stills is that he is “Pussy whipped,” in the song Judy Blue Eyes, and it sometimes said by those who do not like Neil Young, that he is “whining.” While the point is taken, if not well, and a remedy for the excesses of love, it must be said in Still’s defense that the man who said this cannot possibly have ever been, nor likely ever will be, in love, and is likely someone who is already rich, though poorer for it.

The one happy love song on the album is written by Graham Nash, in his love for Joni Mitchell. This is the imaginary goal discovered to the imagination, though in the world it rarely works out. Yet because it might, and sometimes does, come to be, it becomes the measure of what might have been, and what is missed or lost in love that is not returned. This fragility is a part of the beauty of love in the moment.

Our House

I’ll light the fire

While you place the flowers

In the vase that you bought today

Such a cozy room

The windows are illuminated

By the evening sunshine trough them

Fiery gems for you

Only for you

Our house is a very fine house

With two cats in the yard

Life used to be so hard

Now everything is easy ‘cause of you

I’ll light the fire

While you place the flowers

In the vase that you bought today

Joni Mitchell of course did not stay with Graham Nash, but left him for Greece and that fellow doi’n her the goat dance. And this even though Crosby says, in the Rolling Stone interview, that if he were a woman, he would love Nash! I suppose it is reward enough that he could seriously dream of having Joni play her love songs all night long only for him. But whatever our women are doing, it is not this sort of love. There is then in the song the looming sorrow of the temporality of hippie romance, and the Joy of moving in with someone you love has been tinged by the suspicion that it is an illusion or impermanent, and not only because of fortune, but because the love is not permanent: otherwise they would marry, in preparation for children, the offspring or overflow of their love. She would never recover the magic muse of these early days, though she is still Joni Michell. She might herself have realized that she did not know what she had till it was gone, or that she herself paved paradise, when she sent away the passenger in that big yellow taxi, and took off as Amilia Earheart did, to fly alone.

The last song of unrequited love is Crosby’s Guinevere, evoking the story of Arthur and the adultery of his Queen with Lancelot, the perfect knight, which broke up the round table and plunged the Kingdom into a recession that lasted twenty years, until the defeat of Mordred. It is surprising that Crosby, rather than Stills, wrote Guinevere, not because of the height or depth of the poetry, but because it is difficult to see Crosby as being like Arthur, destroyed by an unfaithful love. He may have loved Joni, and Nash took her from his house about this time. The guitar evokes the mood of the song Déjà vu, the mystic or dreamlike setting summoning the transports of contact with the unconscious. It is not clear whether Guinevere is the beloved of the poet or whether it is he with whom she is being unfaithful. This may be the meaning of the picture of him anchored in the harbor for the day, recalling images of Paris when he abducted Helen.

Guinevere had green eyes

Like yours, lady like yours

She’d walk down through the garden

In the morning after it rained

Peacocks wander aimlessly underneath an orange tree

Why can’t she see me?

Guinevere drew pentagrams

Like yours, lady like yours

Late at night

When she thought

That no one was watching at all

On the wall

She shall be free.

As she turns her gaze

Down the slope to the harbor

Where I lay anchored for the day

Guinevere had golden hair

Like yours, lady like yours

Streamin out

When we’d ride

Through the warm wind down by the Lake

Yesterday

Seagulls circle endlessly

I sing in silent harmony

We shall be free

The lady for whom he writes the song is untrue in love. The reason is: she shall be free. The picture made by the words, of Guinevere walking down through the wet garden while peacocks wander about surpasses the psychedelic imagery of Sgt. Pepper, with the added meaning of the Medieval context and the pain of love. “Why can’t she see me” is the anguish of the lover at his apparent invisibility to love sight of the beloved, as when in the fifties those seeking to date the star or the beauty Queen would complain that “he doesn’t even know I exist.” The next set of lines is very strange. In the medieval context, Guinevere drawing pentagrams is a stunning and original image, not from the tradition, and indicates a fascination with witchcraft or the diabolical, as might allow the queen to commit the adultery that destroyed the Round Table. She shall be free is the refrain, and the poet’s response to her drawing pentagrams. The second set raises the question of whether it is the poet himself who sees Guinevere drawing the Pentagrams, the poet becomes identified with someone who knew Guinevere. It is most likely Arthur, since her hair would stream out when they rode in the open, down by the lake. The evocation is of the Lady of the Lake, the mythic figure that in some versions of the story gave and again took back Excalibur, the iron sword of Arthur in the bronze age of northern Europe of the late fifth and early sixth century, when Arthur lived.[15] The word “yesterday” is loaded, and very heavy with the meanings that it carries. It has first the literal meaning that they were riding just the previous day, but also resonates with the nostalgia of the lost lover, as in McCartney’s tune Yesterday. There is in addition the evocation of the vast mythic past, as that which Homer bids the muses to tell of through him, when reaching in the past for the story of Troy. And it is Helen of Troy, another famous adulteress, who in her romantic liberty ran away with Paris on the wooden ships, triggering the war that ended the age of heroes. And now it is not clear whether the poet is a Lancelot or Paris, the new lover of such a woman, or whether she is like a later love of Arthur, and he is still in love with the memory of his Guinevere. Crosby supposedly wrote the song for Christine Hinton.[16] He may have written it when Nash took Joni from his house. The song could possibly have been written by Stills or Nash and then ghostwritten by Crosby in order avoid the stigma of the adulteress, if not the blame for the destruction of the round table, attached to any known woman.

Wooden Ships

Stills: If you smile at me, I will understand

Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.

Crosby: I can see by your coat, my friend,

your from the other side

There’s just one thing I got to know, can you tell me please

Who won?

Stills : Say, can I have some of your purple berries?

Crosby: Yes, I’v been eating them

For six of seven weeks now

Hav’nt got sick once

Prob’ly keep us both alive.

Wooden Ships on the water

Very free and easy

You know the way its supposed to be,

Silver people on the shoreline, let us be

Talk’in bout very free and easy.

Horror grips us as we watch you die

All we can do is echo your anguished cries

Stare as all human feelings die

We are leaving-You don’t need us.

Go, take your sister then by the hand

Lead her away from this foreign land

Far away where we can laugh again.

And it’s a fair wind, blowin warm

Out of the South, over my shoulder

Guess I’ll set a course and go.

On the set, David Crosby writes that the song was…

…written in the main cabin of my boat the Mayan. I had the music already. Paul Kantner wrote two verses, Stephen wrote one, and I added the bits at both ends. I borrowed the first part off a little Baptist church sign that said “If you smile….in the same language.” It’s a weird science fiction story, but one that could happen today. “Silver people on the shoreline” are guys in radiation suits. We imagined ourselves as the few survivors, escaping on a boat to create a new civilization. Later on, Jackson Browne said “What about all the people who get left behind?” and wrote “For Everyman” in response.

It is said that at the Woodstock concert, Crosby identified the setting as after the holocaust. Two soldiers of enemy armies meet as if on a battlefield after the war. The question who won is rhetorical, making the obvious point that both lost, which is the likely result of nuclear war. The two, whose armies were just before trying to kill one another, share berries one has found, and so, helping one another, they are no longer enemies. The smile goes beyond the division of mankind into languages that did not understand each other, after the tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Our being enemies is the conditional or accidental thing, while our universal humanity is the most fundamental. Once the war is over, we and the Germans, for example, can be friends again.

What the hippies ignore is of course that there is ever a circumstance where we and the Germans, for example, must be enemies, and that is when they become the arms of a Hitler. The hippies are oblivious to the truth that Communism as it occurred especially in Russia, China and Cambodia, killed its own people as fast as the Nazi’s did, and therefore its prevention might have been one of those things for which men just have to fight, die and kill. Who would not step in to prevent the killing fields of Pol Pot in Cambodia? Or help out to prevent some heinous crime? And even without these modern killing machine ideologies, civilization has since Hercules been a constant war against those who would harm the weak for their own advantage, raping women, etc, and yes, the “pigs” are necessary to prevent this. Our sailors would quickly find this out in a post apocalyptic setting in which there were roving bands of starving people. The hippie vision is bought at the price of blocking out these difficult necessities. One wonders what Jesus would say about the conquest of the Holy Land by Joshua, or if he would fight like Moses to prevent certain crimes in the act, or presently occurring. Be this as it is, the Woodstock message, like that of Jesus, reminds mankind that peace and universal humanity are more fundamental than war and the divisions of nations.

The song abruptly mixes pre-Armageddon political oppositions with the post Armageddon opening, so that this opening fits into the song only because its point is to show the principle of universal humanity, Horror grips them as they watch the soldiers die, and all they can do is protest. These may be those who, unlike the former patriots, are dressed in silver on the shoreline, and suddenly the two former enemies on the ship become like the hippie movement, and those on the shore like the rest of the country including the soldiers. Here we see that the wooden ship is like a spiritual ark, the ark of the hippies protest and rejection of war. The wooden ships are the hippies. “We are leaving, you don’t need us” is how we feel, too, about America’s rejection of our contribution to the deliberations of the democratic process. The fair wind is blowing them north, toward Canada, where there are many of those who would not fight to contain communism or to prevent communism in South Vietnam. Canada, the nation of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and others, is the American a garden, where we in the states can escape the pressure of world politics, and when the orders of liberty fail us, as was so for the Native Americans and the Blacks in the nineteenth century. Some took the underground Railroad, one track going through this area of Michigan, where Quakers and Baptists had settled. What if all the plains Indians had escaped into Canada, and why on earth did they not? Canada is our Belmont, with the city called Stratford, on the river called Avon, after those in Shakespeare’s England, and Arthur’s Britain.

 

Neil Young

Country Girl

Blinding paths through tables and glass

First fall was new

Now watch the summer pass

So close to you

Too late to keep the change

Too late to pay

No time to stay the same

Too young to leave…]

No pass out sign on the door set me thinking

Are waitresses paying the price of their winking

While stars sit at bars and decide what their drinking

They drop by to die ‘cause its faster than sinking

Too late to keep the change

Too late to pay

No time to stay the same

Too young to leave

When she learns of all your lyin

will she join you there?

Country girl I think your pretty

Got to make you understand

Have no lovers in the city

Let me be your country man

Got to make you understand.

In “Cinnomon Girl,” the poet describes himself as “a dreamer pictures” who runs in the night, and one such picture is of chasing the moonlight with his cinnomon girl. The same muse is addressed in the song “Cowgirl in the Sand,” which may be the best song on the album and illustrates our general theme:

Hello cowgirl in the sand

Is this place at your command?

Can I stay here for a while?

Can I see your sweet sweet smile?

Your old enough now to change your name

When so many love you

Is it the same?

Its the woman in you that makes you want to play this game

Hello Ruby in the dust

Has your band begun to rust?

After all the sin we had

I was hopin’ that we’d turn back

Your old enough now to change your name

When so many love you, is it the same?

Its the woman in you that makes you want to play this game

Hello woman of my dreams

Is this not the way it seem

Purple words on a gray background

To be a woman and to be [turned down?

The opening lines remind of when Ferdinand lands on the magic island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He hears a song, sung by Prospero’s spirit Ariel, that tells him that his father has drowned, yet undergoes a “sea change.” As the Prince looks around the island discovered by his love, he is struck by Miranda, who is soon to become a princess. He asks if she is the goddess on whom these airs attend. “Is this place at your command?” Neil has found a new world, and like Ferdinand, instantly asks her to marry him. In his love song, he tells her to leave the life of the free love of the hippies and change her name, renouncing all others. The next line attempts to answer the question of Stills, “What was it made you run?” It’s “the woman” in her. Similarly, the princess is moved by nature to tell the prince to go slay the dragon, and, like falling in love, does not know why she does this. So, if you ask her why, she cannot say, because she does not know. Men often try to reason with the woman, entering into dialogue with what she says. But the woman usually cannot say what the problem is, because she does not know. Yet it seems she ought know, and so she says all sorts of things that are not the problem are the problem. The man must figure it out himself, and take command like Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca, choosing what is right, even if it means losing the princess.

The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed

1969: Rock n’ Roll and Sweet Jane

We cannot shy away from Lou Reed just because the lyrics to Sweet Jane are difficult. The first song is easy enough:

Jenny said when she was just five years old

You know there’s nothin goin on at all…

See, Jenny, since she was about five, couldn’t find anything that was really happening. The early music, like the TV’s and Cadillacs, didn’t really help. So to answer Don McLean, in this instance, her life was saved by Rock and Roll. Despite all the amputations and complications, she could just dance to the rock and roll station. The liberal arts are not going to save Jenny from the non-existence of a life of pop music and consumer goods in place of what feeds the soul. And the jam of the guitar in this one is danceable, and also one of the best rock tunes ever.

In Sweet Jane, Lou Reed begins, as we will see in Bowie as well, to come out from the sixties oppositions, accepting the common sense happiness of the common man rejected by the hippies along with the war, consumerism and weak pop music. The lyrics are difficult, though, and I do not understand what is occurring as the first few lines set the scene:

Standin on the corner

Suitcase in my hand

Jack’s in his car, says to Jane, who’s in her vest,

Me, babe, I’m in a rock and roll band.

Ridin in a stutz bearcats Jim

Those were different times

And the poets studied rows of verse

And all the ladies would roll their eyes

Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane.

Now Jack he is a banker

And Jane she is a clerk

And both of them savin up their money

Then they come home from work

Sittin by the fire…

Radio just played a little classical music for the kids,

The March of the Wooden Soldiers

And you can hear Jack say

Sweet Jane….

Some people like to go out dancin

And others, like us, we gotta work

And there’s always some evil mothers

They’ll tell you life is full of dirt

And women never really blush

And villains always blink their eyes

And the children are the only ones who blush

‘Cause life is just to die

But anyone who has a heart

Wouldn’t want to turn around and break it.

And anyone who ever played the part,

He wouldn’t want ton turn around and fake it.

Erick D, and others on the Songmeanings site have some good things to say about this song. Eric writes: “It is about correcting the misplaced notion among the ‘protest kids’ that prior generations are trapped in society’s shackles and that only the current generation knows how to live free of them.” Jack and Jane grew up in a different generation, in “different times,” and now work, save money, and play classical music for the kids. Lou, who has to work when they go dancin, is different, a musician who stood on a corner with a suitcase when Jack and Jane were courting. The key to the song is in the last ten lines, reflecting on the picture, and in the refrain, and Eric D also comments, “all the compromises” Jack makes are “for the love of Sweet Jane.” “Sweet Jane,” then, means Jack’s love for her, or the vision of happiness accessible to common humanity- in case you want to know what it means when you sing it. Lou the poet upholds the fragile common sense view of happiness against the nihilists, who might say that life is full of dirt, women fake fainting, villains blink, adults do not blush, and the purpose or end, the goal of life, is just to die. The truth is that women do faint, some villains do not blink, and some adults are still capable of blushing. Because the truth of the world is as the poets see it, anyone who has a heart would not want to destroy this fragile happiness, and anyone who had a part in the human drama would not want to reject this “society” for a fake role as a nihilist, anarchist or something worse. This is the statement of one of the first punk rockers, as the music began to come out of the sixties, and before it would take a turn right with the fascist leaning of the later punks, in the late seventies and early eighties.

David Bowie 1969 Space Oddity

David Bowie had his first hit with the song “Space Oddity.” There is an analogy between the astronaut and the poet, here and in Bernie Taupin’s “Rocket Man,” and the Stones’ “2000 Light Years from Home.” The poet as spiritual seeker gets lost in space, as the rocket man too is “burning out this fuse up here alone.” The isolation from other humans as well as the secret superiority of the poet are reflected well in the image of the astronaut. Though we will hear again from Major Tom, the last word here is “Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows.” In addition to his theme song for the Major Tom character that was to recur throughout his career, the album concludes with “Cygnet Committee,” the first hint of the division between Bowie and the sixties. The difference would become a main theme of the seventies. A Cygnet is a young swan, the species famous for its song, as the hippies were especially the young. The song is that of an old and bitter revolutionary leader when the sixties are all said and done. His selfless dedication leads him to say:

“I gave them life, I gave them all, they drained my very soul dry. I crushed my heart to ease their pain. No thought for me remains there…

That is, his selfless dedication is not fulfilling. In the conclusion of this song, the love machine lumbers through desolation row plowing down man and woman who listen to its commands. Left wing revolutionary ideology results in communist tyranny. Bowie’s comment on the Sixties Left will be taken up again in his song Panic in Detroit, and may literally be related for both Bowie and Lennon to contacts in the Detroit area.

 On Space Oddity, there is also the first glimmerings of the star man theme of Ziggy Stardust, when at the end of “Memory of a Free Festival,” They “talked with tall Venusians passing through.” As is astonishingly similar to the silver seed in Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” one Peter, of their company then “tried to climb aboard,” though the captain would not allow him. In the later Styx song, too, a gathering of angels appeared above his head and sang a song of hope, which is “come sail away.” He then discovers that these were not angels, but starmen, and he does climb aboard, completing the evacuation myth.

On this album there are two crucial love songs said to have been written over Hermione Farthingale, his first great love: Of these, “An Occasional Dream” seems best to fill our search for the decisive love poem for this artist, as with Dylan’s “Tomorrow is a Long Time”..

I recall how we lived

On the corner of a bed

And we’d speak of a Swedish room

Of Hessian and Wood

And we’d talk with our eyes

Of the sweetness in our lives

And tomorrows of rich surprise…

Some things we could do.

In our madness

We burnt one hundred days,

Time takes time to pass

And I still hold some ashes to me,

An occasional dream.

And we’d sleep oh so close,

But not really close our eyes

tween the sheets of summer bathed in blue…

Gently weeping nights.

It was long, long ago

And I still can’t touch your name.

For the days of fate were strong for you…

Danced you far from me.

In my madness

I see your face in mine.

I keep a photograph,

It burns my wall with time.

Time,

An occasional dream

Of mine.

An occasional dream

Of mine.

This and the Letter to Hermione seem to have been written over the essential early love of David Jones, who would become David Bowie.

One wonders if the very success of the rock star does not make lyric love poetry less possible. The argument goes something like this: lyric love poetry is written especially by the lover, rather than the one loved. As presented in Plato’s Symposium (203c), love is akin to need. He is a follower of Aphrodite, who is beautiful, and the son of need and resourcefulness:

…it has always been his fate to be always needy; nor is he delicate and lovely as most of us believe, but harsh, barefoot and homeless, sleeping on the naked earth, in doorways, or in the very streets beneath the stars of heaven, and always partaking of his mother’s poverty.

Part of being a rock star is to have many girls around with stars in their eyes who would gladly stay, so that the rock star becomes the one loved, and no longer a lover. Success may make love too easily available, thus ending the career of the lyric poet as questing lover. The poverty of the lover is necessary to separate out those who love for worldly gain and those who might love for its own sake, or for the sake of the higher things that the two share in common. Once one becomes a star, love and friendship would become most difficult. This at least, is the hypothesis, though it may simply be that this sort of love happens only once or twice in a lifetime

Led Zeppelin

The name Led Zeppelin means to combine the opposite modes of light and the heavy, which is the acoustic folk of the American scene together with the heavy blues, on the way to what is now called “heavy metal.” Davis cites Page: “And there’s a little of the Iron Butterfly light-heavy connotation.”[17] The name was spelled phonetically, L e d, so that the “thick” Americans would not mispronounce it “leed.”[18] The name itself was famously and accidentally coined by Kieth Moon and John Entwistle of The Who, one of whom said Page’s new band would go over like a “lead balloon.” Page is most responsible for collecting Plant, Bonham and Jones, and forming Led Zeppelin. Bonham played with Plant in early bands, while Jones, like Page, was a very professional studio musician, able to play both base and Keyboard. The thunderous drumming of Bonham is something new, approached only by the lightening cracks of Keith Moon, and no one else. But it is Robert Plant that is responsible for what may be the greatest of all rock lyrics. The combination of Plant and Page makes up the poet of Zeppelin. Page is the original wizard from the Yardbirds, a veteran studio musician from the British blues scene of the earlier sixties. What Page did for rock guitar is approached only by Hendrix, and even Hendrix broke apart before developing the ability of composition achieved by Jimmi Page. It may be that the combination of blues and folk was never more complete.

Their classic songs divide neatly into three periods: At first, they cover and embellish old blues tunes, but write little of their own lyrics. Both heavy and light are present here, but early Zeppelin is especially known for the heavy, their centerpiece, set off against the light like a background. In the second phase, on albums III and IV, the acoustic side develops and the enchanting twelve string is melded with the electric blues. At the pinnacle of this phase, the two are combined in “Stairway,” and Zeppelin surpasses the Beatles as the top rock band of all time. Their peak may also be the pinnacle of classic rock. What is attained is drawn out and sustained for a while in the third period, through Physical Graffiti. “Kashmir” is a second peak, equaling “Stairway.” The blues of I and II continued into the second phase, in one song on each of albums III and IV, but the blues disappear from their third phase. These were continued in one song each on III and IV, but a conjunction in which the two are fused into something new. Nor is there folk acoustic music anymore. Folk has evolved into the “Rain Song,” which is more akin to Mozart than Dylan. Blues has become something that is only rock, and no longer blue, as in the Ocean. Kashmir too is not like Stairway, a mix of two that are still distinct, but something that is both, but especially neither blues or folk. The heavy and the light are something like comedy and tragedy, the happy and the sad. Their conjunction in music is like the joining of the ability to write tragedy and comedy in drama, said to have been impossible for the ancient Greeks, but accomplished by Shakespeare. Shakespeare, too, has a third phase in which his dramas are both and neither, and in this third phase he is similarly addressing the higher themes.

There is a rumor, part of the myth of Zeppelin, that the three, excluding Jones, made a Robert Johnson style pact with the devil in exchange for the astonishing musical ability that would bring them the opportunity for wealth, fame, and the great excesses of their life on the road. There is a saying of Crowley scratched on the margin of Zeppelin III, and rumors of hidden messages recorded backwards onto Stairway. We will be more concerned with what the lyrics say played forward, and will attempt to show how the music of Led Zeppelin is not diabolic, regardless of the influence of Mr. Page. We will argue that Page is more a musician and ordinary human than a Satanist. There is something in Page that likes the imagination of Plant, which probably would not be so if Plant were consciously Christian. But the imagination of Plant is fundamentally sound, formed by the California hippies and J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien manages the feat of English literature, which is to allow the imagination to function as a mediator while avoiding idolatry. Hence Tolkien provides Plant with images and a mythical context that is in harmony with reason, and consistent with Christianity, though Church things are, in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, nowhere explicit. Tolkien and Plant know about the white wizard and the Dark Lord of Mordor, and what a “Ringwraith”is, as we will see below. The poetry, and so it seems the music, of Zeppelin is not, in Tolkien terms, in service to the Dark Lord of Mordor. An exception may be one line in the song “Houses of the Holy,” and one suspects the lyrics are here no longer Plant but now Page. Through friendship, the strains of his guitar are enlisted as a part in a whole that is a coincidence of opposites, of Dionysian and Apollonian, powerful and high ecstasies, and fundamentally not evil, but usually very good.

Page might have used lyrics written by Crowley if he wanted, or might have written more of his own, but Page does not conceive the most significant Zeppelin lyrics. Exceptions are the song of lost love, Tangerine, and his embellishment of Dazed and Confused is original. We will argue that there is something like a poet of Zeppelin, that is neither Plant or Page. The poet of Zeppelin is a combination of Plant and Page that is identical to neither. While Page may indeed incline this way, he does not write the lyrics that somehow go with the music that, in combination with Plant and the others, he is able to turn into perennial classic rock songs. Plant has a part that accepts Page, and the diabolic strains. Page has a part that likes the blues of love and the quest, and so we say he is more a human and musician than a follower of the beast. Page could not accept Plant were Plant from the start a Christian, nor would Plant have been able to work with Page. There is something in common between those attracted to the “goddess” or the feminine divine, and the diabolical or Satanic. This is so even of the white magicians and white goddesses. Page at his worst is an artistic advocate of Hitler. He once appeared on the stage dressed as the tyrant, who would sooner kill than use such an artist or musician. At his best, Page is attracted to study and the free quest for truth, or, knowledge. The figure depicted on the cover of the fourth album is ascending to the Hermit, a character from the Tarot cards, “usually interpreted as a warning against proceeding on a given course without retirement and contemplation.”[19] Page reminds of a paradoxical saying of Socrates, that tyranny arises from the corruption of the greatest natures, that might have been philosophical (Republic 491 d-e). Diabolism of this sort is a confusion and corruption of the true quest for knowledge. Its premise is that the way of the good and just, as well as the way of the Christ, is artificial or by convention, while they follow the only way of nature. As Davis summarizes:

…But Crowley felt that real magic was hidden in man’s will, and could be summoned by an unconscious process. In magic was the survival of the pre-Christian era, a natural world of spirits and powers that had been suppressed by the church. Conventional morality was worthless.

But if the good and just are also by nature, and go with happiness, the premise is undermined. It also appears to them that the genuinely spiritual things are along this antithetical and dark path, where what one intends to do to others in truth occurs to our own true selves. There is a very difficult question involved here, as appears when one considers the superstition and literalism of the Medieval beliefs that led to the persecution of witches, and to the practice of witchcraft. To say the least, their visible world is infused with spirits imagined as bodies, or as part of the visible world, indeed the whole pagan imagination, clothed in Christian images. Only all the color had gone out of the imagination, and the spirits appeared mostly dark, or vastly separated from the heavenly angels. Then, in order to dispel superstition, Science purged the imagination of the visible world, replacing folk beliefs about the causes of things with their natural explanation. This is called the enlightenment of the seventeenth century, when science replaced all religion as the authority regarding the causes of things. While science destroyed traditional belief, it also destroyed idolatry. But English literature, and through the Romans, Greek poetry, has always preserved the ability to consider the images playfully, avoiding the idolatry that attends the belief that these things are causes in the visible world in the ways once imagined. We know what it means, for example, when Aphrodite spreads her charms on the appearance of a young woman, though our psychological explanations are not much better than that she has been influenced by a certain beautiful goddess. Part of the attraction of the study of things Greek is that the whole tradition developed without influence from the whole Biblical tradition, so that it is possible to see the human things as they are by themselves. Then, to not be “Pagan,” believing in many gods, would have been to be faithless and impious. The things of the imagination refer to another “dimension,” the soul and the things of the spirit. While Myths are images that pretend to be about the outside world, they are in truth about the human world. Carl Jung is enabled to study the psychic causes, especially in the unconscious, looking for the common structure of human imagination and its products. Only a part, the least part, of the human world is “in” the outside world, or the world of the body. Similarly, while the pagan folk beliefs arise on their own, Satanism depends upon Christianity, drawing its being from adversity to this, or more precisely, to the imitations of this, which are indeed mere appearance. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream” shows the world of the fairy spirits, ruled by the forester Oberon, who has “oft made sport” with “the morning’s love,” or is friendly to Christianity. By “singin ’bout the good things and the sun that lights the day,” Plant is allowed to mediate, and the musical ability of Page is enlisted into a larger whole in which it is not pernicious. Plant was not immediately accepted by Page, and the genius of Page to enlist Plant and then gradually to let him write lyrics is at the root of the meteoric rise of the Zeppelin to a position among the top six or so of the bands. Assisted by Tolkien and others, Plant finds a life of the imagination that is in harmony with reason. Zeppelin is another chapter in the spiritual quest of rock music, the same that took Townshend, the seeker of the Who, and the Beatles, East. In Kashmir, Plant goes East, as do the Beatles, and others, for the expression of transcendent spiritual experience. It is neither especially Christian nor anti-Christian, but rather a spontaneous expression of the ascending soul, more honest than the imitations of Christianity. From deep rock blues, Zeppelin music first looks to the West, toward California and the “Misty mountains / Where the spirits go.” It looks into the vision of the hippies toward a new day that will dawn, as “children of the sun that begin to awake.” It takes us to witness the apocalyptic battle of “Evermore,” where “the sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.” It compares two paths, in “Stairway,” and transmigrates, transporting us (via Morocco) to India. It is not directly Christian, beginning from the liberation of sex, pushing the bounds of what had occurred in popular music with such talk as in “The Lemon Song” or “Whole Lotta Love.” The band was willing to ride these American vulgarities to stardom, beginning with their early fan base among the American white males of the seventies. But even here, as we hope our commentary will show, the liberation and expression of sex has little to do with the power of the rock blues of Zeppelin. Prominent on the first two or three albums, the blues songs of Zeppelin are almost always about the agony of one, a male, who loves a woman, but the woman is unfaithful, leaving the lover in a condition near to madness. This, as we will argue, is the passion of the white males repressed under the masculine persona. One does not imagine a devil able to write a song like “Tangerine,” nor to be so attracted to the weak, dependent, humiliated, wounded and effeminate condition of the lover in the passion of the blues. Alistair Crowley surely never loved. There is also a question whether genuine friendship is possible on diabolic grounds. If they were to do “what they will” to one another, there would not be left justice enough to hold together a band of thieves, let alone a rock band. It is not clear that Page always grasps the non-satanic context of the tradition of English poetry, but he welcomes the understanding of love implied by the blues, and the imagination of Plant, which naturally inclines toward things good. Similarly, Plant writes lyrics that Page likes. One begins to suspect that the union of Plant and Page is some kind of compensation of opposites, as though there were therein something of the white and black magician. Each has an unconscious element that attracts them to one another as components of the group, some Apollonian-Dionysian mixture that makes for great art, for a while. The elements that work together here are well symbolized in the castles each bought: Page lived for a while at Boleskein, a castle once owned by Alistair Crowley, while Plant’s castle was at Bron-Yr-Aur, in Snowdon, which means “Breast of Gold,” (Case, p.91). There Merlin, according to one tradition, once walked, and there Plant and Page stayed while writing Zeppelin III, before recording at Headley Grange in London. What is intriguing is that when it is restrained to a certain part in the composition, the darker element has a place that adds well to the whole.

The early blues of Zeppelin are all about the agony of the lover at the infidelity of the one he loves. As a theme in the black blues, this is fairly rare, and the selection of Zeppelin is precise according to this principle. This lost love is the theme, on the first album, Side I, of songs 1, 4 and maybe 2, and nearly the whole of Side II. It is the essential expression of “Dazed and Confused.” “The Lemon Song” and “Heartbreaker” and “Communication Breakdown” continue the theme on the second album, overflowing into a second peak in “Since I’v been lovin’ you” and “When the levee breaks,” on the third and fourth albums. And then it is done. There are no more classic Zeppelin blues, with the exception of “In My Time of Dyin,” and no more of these romantic blues at all. In “Ramble On,” on the second album, a summary is given in symbol as to what it is that has happened, and had already indicated the conclusion or the response of the Zeppelin poet, which is to ramble on. A world of the imagination opens, and the first gem mined is Robert’s first song, “Thank You,” written for his wife. It is through the agony of lost love expressed in the Zeppelin blues that the imagination opens, and lyric tunes come pouring as a spring out the side of a mountain.

These songs, and especially the Zeppelin blues, may be the best example yet of our theme, that beneath the liberation of sex or the shocking surface of rock, there is a more genuine expression of true love. The repeated theme is the anguish from the infidelity that drives the lover on a descent near to madness. Even the famous vulgarity on the Lemon song is, in the context, a plea to be loved, and the strutting proficiency of “Whole Lotta Love” is an attempt at optimism amid the anguish and chaos of this love. What is shocking, when one thinks of it, is no longer the honest, “adult” talk of sex, as in the old black blues. What is shocking is the understanding and experience of love in the blues of Zeppelin. It is complex, and surprising. It presupposes that true love is monogamous. The sexual revolution ends in the contradiction with the nature of true love. As it turns out, it is this, the agony of infidelity and the emotions of true love, that are the repressed “unconscious” expressed in the white blues of rock for the younger siblings of the hippies that banged their heads on the stage at the Boston Tea Party in 1969, when Zeppelin invaded America.

Zeppelin 1969: I and II

In “Good Times Bad Times,” the first word of Zeppelin sets the theme of this unlucky romantic history in the broader terms of an inquiry into “what it means to be a man.” He has tried to do all the things of a man as best he can, following the traditional teaching, but finds himself caught in a rut. His first love at sweet sixteen left him in only a couple days, when he whispered something to her. And now, his woman has left home for a better man. He upbraids himself for apathy. Now he is alone, and on a romantic prowl, confidently seeking a love that won’t up and leave him. This is the first word of Zeppelin, and the inquiry into the dark romantic emotions that is to follow. Loneliness describes the present circumstance in which the song occurs, as the Zeppelin takes off:

In the days of my youth, I was shown what it means to be a man

And now I’ve reached that age, I try to do all these things the best I can

No matter how I try, I find my way to the same old jam.

Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my share

Well my woman left home for a better man, and I still don’t seem to care

Sweet sixteen I fell in love with a girl as sweet as could be

It only took a couple of days till she was rid of me

She swore that she would be all mine, and love me till the end

But when I whispered in her ear, I lost another friend.

I know what it means to be alone

I sure do wish I was at home

I don’t care what the neighbors say

I’m gonna love you, girl,

Each and every day

You can feel the beat within my heart

realize, sweet baby, we ain’t never gonna part

The blues theme is underlined when the next line is “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” Written by Ann Bredon and covered famously by Joan Baez as a blue folk song. The original song is moving because it is the one loved that is leaving. But see if this theory is not correct: in the context of the romantic blues theme of Zeppelin, it becomes the song of the lover, who resolves to leave. “Look for me” and “I’ll be gone.” Paired with I Can’t Quit You Babe, and in the context of the album, the one trying to leave is the mistreated lover. It is difficult for a kind one to leave one that loves them, but almost impossible for the lover to intentionally leave the one loved, even though they know they should, and this, as it seems is the new tension of the song. From the beginning, it is impossible that they leave.

Babe, babe Babe, I’m gonna leave you

I said Baby…I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summer time

Leave You when the summer comes a rollin

Leave you when the summer comes along.

Babe, babe, babe, I wanna leave you

I ain’t jokin, woman, I’v got to ramble

Baby baby, I’v really

Really got to ramble

I can hear it calling me the way it used to

I can hear it calling me back home.

Babe, I’m gonna leave you

Oh, baby,

You know I’v really got to leave you

Oh, I can hear it callin’ me

Said don’t you hear it callin me the way it used to

I know, I know I’m never gonna leave you. babe

But I gotta go away from this place

I gotta get you [there]

Oh, Baby, baby, baby baby baby, baby baby,oh

Don’t you hear it callin me

Woman, woman

I know, I know

It feels good to have you back again, and I know

that one day, baby, its gonna realy grow, yes it is

We’re gonna go

Walkin’ through the park every day

I’m gonna leave you,

Go away

It was really goin’

You made me happy every single day

But now

I’v got to go away

Baby baby baby

That’s when its callin me

I said that’s when its callin me

Back home

He wishes to return to “it, ” which must be a high free or solitary life, in contrast with the present. In the Baez tune, it is the longing for the road which calls the one leaving, to journey Westward. Here, it is calling him “back home,” and in the previous song, he wished he was “at home.” The Zeppelin version, the sorrow is set off against the background of the happiness of their lives together, and there is also a picture of their possible happiness together in the future, when they will go walking through the park. The imagined happiness sets off the sorrow of the reality, allowing it to appear as it is, and evoking the wrenching emotion.

Babe, it was really, really goin’

You made me happy every single day

But now I’v got to go away

Baby, baby, baby

That’s when its callin’ me back home.

The word ramble enters the Zeppelin vocabulary from American folk tunes of the road, and is the beginning of the spiritual response to the romantic catastrophe. He hears it calling him the way it used to, calling him back home. Here we see the first glimmer of the idyllic world of the light theme mixed with the heavy blues of the actual world’s blues, as will occur repeatedly in the light / heavy of the Led Zeppelin. When Plant begins to write the lyrics, this light theme develops into the eternal love of “Thank You” and the Tolkein inspired imagination present in “Stairway.” and throughout the third and fourth albums.

   “You Shook Me” is a Willie Dixon Song, done also by Jeff Beck on his 1969 album Truth. It sets the stage for Dazed and Confused, with a recollection of the love that winds up to the calls for the lost love to return home. “Dazed and Confused” was the song that propelled Page and the Zeppelin to stardom with their first album. Developed out of a folk tune by Jake Holmes, it features and introduces the diabolic strains of Jimmie’s guitar, which he bowed like a Bohemian Paganini. The title line has nothing to do with drugs, but is the result of the long harried condition of the ill-fated lover. It introduces what is the theme of Zeppelin rock blues, this duplicitous love. The lover loves one that is untrue, and cannot break through the illusion to free himself, despite being tortured near to insanity. The diabolic strains express a suffering inflicted by the dark things, which have seized the one loved, to the distress of the helpless lover:

Been dazed and confused for so long its not true

Wanted a woman, never bargained for you

Lots of people talking but few of them know

Soul of a woman was created below

The misogyny or heretical thought of the line must be understood in the context of what is shown. This woman sleeps with other men and then returns to the poet who loves her, torturing him into the blues frenzy and near madness to follow. The one who does this cannot possibly know what she is doing, but as in “The Rover,” the woman is connected with the dark side, and so, if somewhat accidentally or unconsciously, tramples the heart of the lover. Of course, for the one loved, the whole affair may be much less significant, accidental and unintentional. Note too that this poem cannot possibly be Satanic, as the poet is plagued by the things below: The diabolic strains are enlisted to express the confusion laid onto the lover by the duplicitous circumstance, over which the compulsion of his love leaves him no control or. escape It is this that leads to the powerful, anguished accusation: “soul of a woman was created below.” Here the lover and poet is the one opposed or tortured by the diabolic things. But the white blues of Zeppelin are again a suffering of the sexual revolution, or a finding of the drawbacks and limits. It is the demonstration of the argument of the lover that this is the pinnacle of rock blues. The lover is left “dazed and confused” in a deep sense, or near to insanity. It has nothing to do with drugs, though the psychic disorientation might be similar. The diabolic strains of the famous bowed guitar portray the chaos into which the lover descends when the one he loves does not love but in effect tortures him. This is the essential repressed emotion in the expression of these white male blues.

Notice what occurs in the second stanza: The lover is compelled to return, making love to the one loved even though he is in the madness of believing that she is unfaithful:

You hurt and abused, telling all of your lies

Run round sweet baby, lord how you hypnotize

Sweet little baby, I don’t know where you’ve been

Gonna love you baby, here I come again.

This is again shocking in an ironic way. There is a natural disgust that attends promiscuity. The imitation of love making sounds, to recur in “Whole Lotta Love,” is here the imitation not of the disgust but of the torture of the lover making love to one untrue. The confusion is that of the compulsion of the lover to make love to the one loved amid the grave uncertainty of her fidelity. The collision of these two intense emotions is the tragic tension. One cannot make love at the same time believe the love has just been with another, and so the mind itself is disturbed. The lover alternates between the two phrenes, two minds, the world where he loves and the world where he thinks she is untrue. Note that the coldness of the beloved is what occurs at home when the lover is “running around.” At home, the one loved pushes him away. There may be a sense, related to the biblical use of the word “know,” in which something about the intimacy leads the lover to know of the infidelity, causing a disturbance that will burst into consciousness, when the nature of the soul leads to a purge. The lover can also be very wrong, and Shakespeare portrayed the dangers of jealousy, in Othello. Shakespeare never portrays jelousy that is correct in fearing infilelity. And it may be that such a thing, when what jealousy fears is true, has never before been expressed as it is in the Zeppelin blues. This disturbance is beyond jealousy, though the reason for it may be similar to the filial nature of man involved in the root of jealousy. There is something natural to human love that seeks fidelity, in a different way for the man than the woman, since the woman bears the child. Why does infidelity cause the lover such pain and trouble? One suspects that this is related biologically to the attempt to avoid raising children snuck into one’s nest, as the cuckoo does, sneaking eggs to be raised by other birds as a reproduction strategy. The more prominent the body, the more the matter is of biology. For the woman, the infidelity of a husband is more a question of wasting substance, since his infidelity need not cost her offspring in the same way. Yet a man could easily gain more than he loses in reproductive strategy, as could a woman by, say, bearing the offspring of some “real man,” while tricking the more domestic-able, who is less likely to beat them, into caring for the household. There was a common Sixties argument against possessiveness in love, which required of the lover the detachment suited to a buddha, as though indifference  were a moral duty. But fidelity in love is also a matter of the soul. One suspects too that there is a mystery here related to Genesis 1:26, the cryptic statement that God made man in his image, male and female, as this is said to be the reason that a man leaves his parents and is joined to his wife. That the two become one “flesh” is a spiritual saying, so that “sex” is also what were doing with our souls. Consummation in marriage is a bonding ritual, and so is by nature for a purpose beyond reproduction. This root would be the corollary in white magic to the theory of “sexmagic” in the thought of Crowley, and shows why the soul can be abused in these ways. Hence, infidelity is disintegrating, and deeper than we know. Questions of justice and deception come to be involved in human love by nature. If the lover does not know of the infidelity, how does it hurt them? Then, because two in a household are one soul, both the souls and the household degenerate from the crown and hearth, disordered and unable to function amid inner faction, and tripping over duplicity. Zeppelin I answers this false opinion of those who do not love. The lover suffers the infidelity regardless, if nowhere else, then in the absence of the one they love. The song depends on the lover retaining the sympathy of the listener, and the motive of the song is an attempt to communicate these romantic sufferings. Humans are like parrots, and even more, where parrots are by nature social, and so will assault themselves, even pulling their own feathers, from the need for communication. The Zeppelin blues are a vindication of the lover regarding the justice of telling the truth, and the sort of beloved that ensnares them by their love, and then constructs for them a false world to inhabit, all because to be loved is flattering and can be made convenient. But by the lovers own compulsion, he is happy to be flattering and convenient.

She is one of those that hypnotize many men, not just beautiful, but a certain kind of Siren that is the destruction of the true lover, unless he can somehow get through to her or free himself. Commenting on “Tangerine,” Case suggests that for Page it may have been the beautiful Jackie de Shannon. The particular is not important for us, though it be for him. Out of the particulars, the poet of Zeppelin distills the rarefied human experience. It is the essence of romantic blues, amplified when these white English rockers got hold of the Blues. There is an expression of the working man’s blues in what may be a Jake Holmes part of the tune, the poet sings:

Every day I work so hard, bringin’ home my hard earned pay

Try to love you baby, but you push me away.

Don’t know where your goin, only know just where youv’e been

Sweet little baby I want you again

…of course stands out as exceptional, something that breaks through to a height or intensity never seen before, and surely is not present in the Jake Holmes original. The line later, in “since I’v been lovin You,” of working from seven to eleven nearly every night, again makes this working man’s romantic blues. The meaning is astonishing: The sexual revolution, of “free love,” ends with these lines. which present the call for the lover to be true, and the hellish result of the opposite. Then the music, which imitated the sounds of love making, is simultaneously a descent into madness. The diabolic strains are set in service to a context that is human, even natural, contradicting the do whatever you like, or “what you will” theory of Crowley. Or is this not just what the unfaithful lover, who retains the lover by creating a duplicitous reality for them to believe, is doing? Such a thing has never been expressed before in the history of art. Finally the lover has expressed the agony of loving an unfaithful woman that yet returns to the lover. “Piece of my heart” is close, as “Somebody to Love” may also be, along these lines, and one can see how the rock mode is especially suited to the bursting out of these passions. The suggestion of Zeppelin might be that this is the essential blues emotion, at least on this level of the human things. Surely there are things greater than romantic love, and tragic circumstances sadder, but on the level of music about love, we are entering a tragic peak or pinnacle of expression. The lover suffers not in body but in soul, and is painfully opened, potentially to the higher spiritual things, in what is like religious experience in contrast with mere belief. But the opening can also leave them prey to things below.

“Your Time is Gonna Come” is again about the same thing, romantic infidelity that drives the lover insane, so that some time in the future she’ll look for him and he’ll be gone. Here we see that it is indeed the lover who is leaving, or trying to, and in hindsight, “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” also appears this way, and more tortured if sung by the lover than the one loved.

After an instrumental called Black Mountain Slide, the same love onto near insanity is belted out in the classic Communication Breakdown. Here their own rock voice, as distinct from blues, emerges for the first time to become characteristic of seventies rock, especially in the rhythm guitar. It is an anger or frustration that breaks with the crack of the drums:

Hey girl stop what your doin’

Hey girl you’ll drive me to ruin

I don’t know what it is I like about you, but I like it a lot

Won’t you let me hold you, let me give you lovin touch

 

Communication breakdown

Its always the same

Havin’ a nervous breakdown

Drive me insane ]

 

Hey girl

I got something I think you ought to know

I wanna tell you that I love you so

I never wanna let you go

Cause I like your charms

Communication breakdown

Its always the same

Havin’ a nervous breakdown

Drive me insane

Oh, [explicative]

I want you to love me all night

I want you to love.

Communication Breakdown is a frantic call of the lover to the one loved to love, and the communication breakdown, and the energy of the song, is the frustration of the lover. The explicative occurs at the point of irrationality, the recognition of defeat and the emergent disintegration to result from this failure. The last two lines again show how this music is concerned with “sex.” He wants her to love. Lust in the conjugal union, or as a part of love, is different from lust given the lead, so that it seeks many rather than one. The poet of Zeppelin is all about the one.

   “I Can’t Quit You, Babe” is the same theme, still trying to escape the beloved in a love that messed up his happy home and made him mistreat his only child, yet still she is his “one desire.” How Many More Times” joins up with the subliminal quality of “Dazed and Confused.” In a way it is an elaboration or even a return to the same song. The lyric first asks “How many more times” of an unfaithful love, and of himself, how many more times he will be compelled by his love to return.

How many more times

Treat me the way you wanna do

How many more times

When I give you all my love,

Please, please be true.

The song then seems to break suddenly into the song of her seducer, who becomes a separate character, as in drama. If this is correct, it is as though the poet teleported or transmigrated to witness the depravity of his persecutor.

I was a young man, I couldn’t resist

Started thinking it over just what I had missed

Got me a girl and I kissed her a little bit

Went so low, well I did it again

Now I got ten children of my own

another child on the way that makes eleven

And I’m in constant heaven

But I know its all right in my mind

I got a little schoolgirl and she’s all mine

I can’t get through to her ‘cause it doesn’t permit

But I’m gonna give her everything I’v got to give

Oh rosy, Oh girl

Oh Rosy, oh girl

Steal away now

Steal away

Little [Robert Anthony?] wants to come and play

Why don’t you come to me baby

Steal away

Well they call me the hunter

That’s my name

Call me the hunter

That’s how I got my fame

Ain’t nneed to hide

Ain’t no need to run

Cause I’v got you in the sight of my gun.

The lecher is a character as in a drama, like the Jackknife Barber of Ian Anderson. This one describes how he got married, had ten children, is still fertile with his wife, but regrets having missed what he missed in youth, by marrying young. For this he pursues girls that are a bit youngish. He is the hunter, the one who cuckolds the lover with the one the lover loves. The poem captures her as she sneaks off to with the hunter. The whole scene, as it seems, is like a telepathic viewing by the lover of the unfaithful act of the beloved, which he experiences in his own soul, in a kind of madness that reveals the truth that his soul depends upon. The song then returns to consider the poet’s own compulsion, asking again, after considering these things, “How many more times ?” The character of the hunter is a bit like Townshend’s Dr. Jimmy and Mr. Jim, a Jeckyl and Hyde duality in which the lover recognize a part of themselves in the compulsion of the opportunist that is their tormentor. And the song concludes in the agony of the call to be true and to return home:

How many more times

Romance all night long

How many more times

Romance all night long

I got to get to you baby

Please come home

Why don’t you listen to me baby

Why don’t you please come home.

Why don’t you listen to me baby

Why don’t you please come home.

Why don’t you please come home.

Why don’t you please come home.

So side two concludes as did side one, with a descent into madness, concluding the argument of the whole album. As Page said, he wanted the album to be not just to songs strung together, but to have a dramatic structure.

Zeppelin II “The Brown Bomber”

The first album is entirely tragic. The only hint, in the first album, of the ethereal imagination of Plant is in the “it” that he hears calling him the way the way it used to, in the Zeppelin addition to the Baez tune. The second album continues the tragic lost love songs, with heartbreaker and “The Lemon Song,” but also contains hopeful love songs, beginning with the essential rock love-call “Whole Lotta Love.” The album is influenced by the confidence due to their success, as well as the tension between home and road lives. The heights break through for the first time in “What is and What Should Never Be,” and again in “Thank You,” reputedly the first lyric written by Plant. It opens with the blistering riffs of “Whole Lotta Love,” which, like “Communication Breakdown,” begins with the guitar alone at a high level of energy.

You need coolin’

[Woman] I’m not foolin’

I’m gonna send ya

Back to schoolin’

Way down inside, honey you need

I’m gonna give you my love

You’ve been learnin’, Baby I’v been yearnin’

All of the good time, baby I been a-learnin’

Way way down inside

I’m gonna give you my love

Wanna whole lotta love

The instrumental then imitates what is like love-making, and, as in “Dazed and Confused,” a descent into confusion and panic. The vocal then returns with some of the more vulgar lines. It is a song of masculine confidence, to say the least, but appears in its depth in the context of the failing love of the Zeppelin blues. His love needs coolin,’ so he’s gonna send her back to schoolin.’ This is to say, she is wandering, and he will re-tether her with his prowess in the conjugal union business. The keynote, way down inside, you need love, is at first very vulgar, but has a analogical and more human meaning, the longing for connection within the human desire for union. As Patty Smith says, in “Because the Night,” “love is an angel disguised as lust.”

What Is and What Should Never Be

And if I say to you tomorrow

Take my hand child, come with me

Its to a castle I will take you

Where what’s to be they say will be

Catch the wind, see us spin

Sail away, leave the day

Way up high in the sky

[hang low] but the wind won’t blow

You really shouldn’t go

Only goes to show

That you will be mine

By takin our time.

And if you say to me tomorrow

Oh what fun it all would be

Then what’s to stop us, pretty baby

But what is and what should never be.

Catch the wind, see us spin

Sail away, leave today

Way up high in the sky

[hang low] And whoa, but the wind won’t blow

You really shouldn’t go

And it only goes to show

That you will be mine

By takin our time.

So if you wake up with the sunrise

And all your dreams are still as new

And happiness is what you need so bad

[Girl it’s a loss in you, yeah]

The song initiates another Zeppelin theme, of calling the woman to come along, here on a soaring journey to a castle. This is a sub-theme that enters on occasion, and in many Zeppelin tunes, as at the end of Kashmir. It is possible that the love is ill timed or even adulterous for one or both, which would make sense of the statement that what prevents them from going is what is, or the present circumstances, and what should never be, that two such should catch the wind together. The alternative, that the call is to a legitimate love, would mean that what is– the deficiency of her love– and what should never be, something in the past, prevents their love from taking them on the journey. It is not clear which, and it matters a lot, but with this ambiguity, it is more universal. “That you will be mine by taking our time” is a hook line of the song, the one thing that catches the souls and sticks with most listeners on a conscious level. It is a very hopeful lyric, and argues for the latter of the two possibilities, that the song is that of a lover calling one to true love, to an ascent that is prevented by what has been.

Davis cites Richard Cole, who said that Robert had a mistress that he brought in and introduced.

The Lemon song

The Lemon song contains the vulgar blues line asking her to “squeeze” his “lemon till the juice runs down” his “leg.” The line is set in the context of the same blues theme, transforming the meaning from the surface vulgarity to a deeper, if more pathetic blues longing for love. The lover says he should have left her a long time ago, because she uses him for something while seeing another man. He should have listened to his “second mind,” but when he tries to leave her, he is sunk into depression, or as Othello says, “When I love thee not, Chaos is come again.”

I should have quit you

A long time ago

I wouldn’t be here with all my troubles

Down on this killin floor

I should have listened, baby

To my second mind

I should have listened, baby

To my second mind

Every time I go away to leave you darling

Bring me the blues right down the line

I went to sleep last night

Prayed hard as I can

I give you all my money, you take my money, give it to another man

I should have quit you babe, a long time ago

Squeeze my Lemon, baby, till the juice runs down my leg

The way you squeeze me darling, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.

The vulgarities are thought funny on the surface, functioning comically to exclude the prudes, feed the press, fill the need of the many to talk dirty, and to incite and then make fun of the un-hip, which was an old hippie pastime. Yet the context is the same as “Dazed and Confused,” and the desire for sex again a desire for love. The blues man is thrown back onto his knees in prayer, not by custom, but by the pain of love and life, called the “killin’ floor.’ One might say that those who have not been there have not loved, though there is always the simple happy sort that are never taken to the edge of the world. The coarse desire of the vulgar line is the longing of the lover for relief from the killing floor, by being with the one loved in the ways of abandon, as though she would care to please him. It might be added that one purpose of early and secondary education, in harmony and courage, is to steel the young against the pain of love, and that this is beyond the scope of our present education.

“Thank You” might be the most beautiful Zeppelin song. is a pledge of eternal love. It has been played at wedding ceremonies, and works well:

If the sun refused to shine

I would still be lovin you

When Mountains crumble to the sea

There would still be you and me

Kind woman. I give you my heart

Kind woman, nothing more

Little drops of rain

Whisper of the pain

Tears of love lost in the days gone by

Our love is strong

Here there is no wrong

Together we shall go until we die

Oh, my my

Happiness, no more be sad

Happiness,[   ]

If the sun refused to shine

I would still be lovin you

When Mountains crumble to the seas

There would still be you and me

I wanna thank you.

His love will last longer than the most permanent things on earth. The stunning beauty of these four lines is matched by the effect of the gentle rain. It recalls and heals the souls from the scars of past love and failure, and the sky, like the souls, yields a precipitate when these things come together. This harmonizing of the soul and the souls makes possible the description of the happiness toward which these might look forward. Written by Plant rather than Page, his gratitude might be increased by the shining of her love against the background of the Zeppelin blues.

Side Two

Heartbreaker

 

Hey fellas have you heard the news

You know Annie’s back in town

It won’t take long just watch and see

How the fellas lay their money down

Her style is new but her face the same

As it was so long ago

But from her eyes a different smile

That’s all…I want you to know

Well its been ten years or maybe more

Since I first set eyes on you

The best years of my life go by

Here I am alone and blue

Some people cry and some people die by the wicked ways of Love

But I’ll just keep on rollin along with the strength from the Lord above

People talking all around

‘bout the way you left me flat

I don’t care what the people say

Cause I know where their jive is at

One thing I do have on my mind

[If you can clarify please do]

Is the way that you call me another guy’s name

When I try to make love to you

[instrumental]

[Work so hard I can’t unwind]

Get some money saved

Abuse my love a thousand times

However hard I try

Heartbreaker your time has come

Can’t take your evil ways

Go away heartbreaker

This song is again about the same woman who left him flat ten or more years ago, as she hits town and charms the men out of their money. He does not cry or die, but keeps rollin’ along. He is vengeful, but, although people are talking about how she left him, he does not care what they say. What he does care about is that she called him another guys name. This happens commonly, and is infuriating, sad, and comical all at once. This, again, is the trouble with infidelity and duplicity.

From the suggestion of Davis (p. 98), “The Living loving Maid” is a sarcastic or comical and affectionate song seems at first to be a song, a character portrait or caricature of an old groupie. Its nearly inaudible opening lines are: “With a purple Umbrella and a fifty cent hat / Goin’ round town in her aged Cadillac.” But that he is paying alimonny or something like it makes us wonder if old “Annie” is not now an old groupie. A great line is “When your conscience hits, you knock it back with pills…

   “Ramble On” is the recognition or conclusion of the blues of Zeppelin. It is described in terms from Tolkein, where Gollum is the ugly cave creature that covets the ring. But there are not significant romances in Tolkein. “Mine’s a tale that can’t be told,” in so many words, that is, and so he tells it in symbol:

Leaves are fallin all around

Its time I was on my way

Thanks to you, I’m much obliged

For such a pleasant stay

But now it’s time for me to go

The autumn moon lights my way

And now I smell the rain, and with it pain

And its headin my way.

Ah, sometimes I grow so tired

But I know I’v got one thing I gotta do

Ramble on, sing my song

I’m goin round the world I gotta find my girl

On my way

I’v been this way ten years to the day-Ramble on

I gotta find the Queen of all my dreams

Got no time for spreading rumors

The time has come to be gone

And though [our health] we drank a thousand times

Its time to ramble on

Chorus

Mines a tale that can’t be told

My freedom I hold dear

When years ago in days of old

When magic ruled the air

Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor

I met a girl so fair

But Gollum, and the evil Lord

Crept up and slipped away with her…

And ain’t nothing I can do, no

I guess I’ll keep on Ramblin

I’m gonna shake, sing my song

I’m goin’ round the world, I gotta find my girl

Ramble on…in my heart…got to part…I gotta keep searchin for my baby

My my my my my my baby

The myth so described is similar to the abduction of Persephone by Pluto, god of the underworld, who held her there. Orpheus descended into Hades and attempted to ascend, freeing his love Eurydice, but could not restrain himself from violating the instruction that he not look at her until they had ascended. When he looked, she slipped back down again. Phaedrus, in Plato’s Symposium, (179d), concludes that it was only a shadow of the woman with whom Orpheus was permitted to ascend, and that it is the fear of death that led to the failure of Orpheus. She is prevented from love by something that is as though she were abducted into the underworld. Hercules and Odysseus both descend, and Hercules attempts to return with someone. The action is also compared to Socrates’ descent back into the cave, or the return of the philosopher to the city (Republic, Book VII), and his efforts at education. For Orpheus, and for some, there may be nothing that can be done, beyond the song that attempts to persuade the lover to come along. Again the Zeppelin conclusion is to ramble on in quest of the queen of his dreams. Here, the lover can only try, and fail, to persuade the one loved to come along, and if she does not, he can only ramble on, seeking to find “the queen of all my dreams.” Here the queen enters the poetry of Zeppelin for the first time. It is the same queen, though, as when he is goin’ to California to find a queen without a king, the one who plays guitar and cries and sings. The poet conceives an image of royalty that guides the imagination in search of the best life­ an aristocratic image.

The loss of the one essential love is the loss of attachment to everything in the world. It is the loss of or the heart or the womb of future hopes in the world, which is why all our soul and passion is involved. The loss of all attachment to anything in the world stands at the portico of the spiritual ascent. It is here that the artist can get lost, and fall in, and here too that the philosopher Socrates, and good intentions, can be most helpful. It is the fundamental common human circumstance, where most of those that go wrong go wrong, and where our music kicks in to find an expression that in the end allows for the restoration of sanity. People are like Parrots in that there is a natural need for communication. Parrots left alone often take up the peculiar and unexplainable behavior of attacking themselves, pulling feathers and such, as it seems, from the frustration of their natural social life. Humans are similar, and so it is a great thing if our artists can reach in and find people where they are otherwise alone, without expression, or even without knowing what it is that they would express if they had an outlet for its communication.

Lost love is the unifying theme present in the vast majority of the Zeppelin blues songs on the first album, continued onto the second, and in a single song on the third and fourth. “Since I’v been Loving You,” is overflow from the second album, and “When the Levee breaks,”on the fourth album. Then the Zeppelin blues of lost love disappear, transformed somehow into the transcendence of “Stairway” and “Kasmere.” The theme returns somewhat, late in “Fool in the Rain” “Hey, hey what can I do,” but it is no longer the electric anguish of rock blues, but an acoustic folk blues song.

The music of Zeppelin is also a good example of another of our themes, that the great musicians write from inspiration rather than knowledge. The truth of the soul in love is not taken by Page from any abstract teaching or influence of Crowley, laid onto notes in some abstract intellectualizing, nor any dark wizardry. It rather rises up from the more natural soil of American blues, cultivated into its fundamental expression through the loves of these poets, and in the Zeppelin event. The emotion of the Zeppelin blues is in contradiction with Crowley and the “Do what thou wilt…” and the pursuit of subtle variations on the animal appetite. One does not see how a Satanist could be brought to his knees by love and infidelity, at least without great embarrassment. One suspects that the repressed humanity of Page allows him to join in combination with the peace and beauty of the higher imagination of Robert Plant. It seems to us, then, that among the musicians reputed to incline toward diabolism, not even Page is consistent, but has a kind hearted side or even core, if it is imprisoned like an inner child in the dungeon of his eccentric mansion. One suspects that he never whipped a woman (Davis, p. 95) that did not consent. He is an artist as distinct from a philosopher, the very sort that Nietzsche sought to impress with his teaching.

By contrast, serious and deadly evil was lurking about the California scene. It was Manson’s vengeance for a near miss on a record deal that led to the selection of the house where Sharon Tate was murdered. As Barney Hoskyns relates the story,[xx] Terry Melcher, a cohort of John Phillips of the Mama’s and the Pappa’s in the Canyon scene, rented the house to Roman Polansky, the out of town husband of Sharon Tate, who directed Rosmary’s Baby. Manson chose this house to begin his plans to spark an apocalyptic race war because he thought Melcher lived there. Manson had spent time around Melcher and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Dennis Wilson allowed the Manson family to move into his home in Rustic canyon, called him “the wizard,” and was attracted to the girls there. And this would be when Manson threatened Brian Wilson. Though this is not where the family lived at the time, it is a wonder that this connection is not what led to the unraveling of the murder, as it might be an early thought to occur to these associates after hearing of a murder at Melcher’s rented house. But the murder was revealed by one of the family members, and Manson was charged with murder by the time of the Altamont festival, in December.

 Notes

[1]    The theoretical foundation for so radical a proposal is Plato’s Republic, where the one thing that could have been done in a general way to prevent each decline of the regime is “argument mixed with music. It alone, when it is present dwells within the one possessing it as a savior of virtue throughout life” (549 b; 554b; 560 b; 571b)

[2]    Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. Collected Works, Vol.8. Jung is my authority in psychology throughout, providing a way that the images and symbols can be discussed in terms of universal meaning.

[3]    After Onan, a character in the Bible who spilled his seed to avoid giving children to his brother (38:9). What Onan does, though, is different from solitary masturbation, and similar to the rhythm method advocated by Catholics as an alternative to birth control. Having taken a century to overcome shame, it may take another century to establish that masturbation is not necessary, pointless, and causes inner division. It demonstrates our subjection to the body. Doctors once stimulated women, in the fifties and sixties, as though orgasm were some medical necessity. dulls the senses in that one might miss their love when she walks by, being satisfied in the lowest sense. Love is for the noble, and masturbation, for males, is ugly or ignoble. Males in love do not masturbate, because the object of their love has all their desire. A fellow student once raised the amusing question of whether it is not better than adultery, but worse than fornication. The unhappily married might find it superior to subjection to their wives.

[4]    Michael Schumacher, The Life and Music of Eric Clapton, p. 90

[5]    Maimonides writes of 10 or 12 degrees of prophesy (Guide for the Perplexed, II. 36). The psalm writing of David is an example of the second degree, while the first action of Moses among the Egyptians is an example of the first degree. In the Republic, the relation of music would seem to come by art and reason, if they are to make their poems according to knowledge or not make them. But this perfection would seem to pertain to men like Moses. We are lucky to see as a flash of lightening on a dark night, while Moses is said to be likened by one for whom the flash is continuous, like turning night to day (I, Introduction).

[6]    The word daemon, as in “the daemon of Socrates,” is different from the medieval word demon, used to refer to a subordinate devil. The daemon or spirit of Socrates was a voice, which according to Plato would tell him not to do or say certain things, though never urge him to actions.

[7]    Translated by Thomas G. West, in Four Texts on Socrates, p. 70.

[8]    Ibid. with slight variation, by Thomas G. West, in Four Texts on Socrates, p. 70.

[9]    Translated by Jacob Klein, from “Plato’s Ion,” in of Jacob Klein, Lectures and Essays, p. 350.

[10]  I recall hearing a believable story on a Greyhound bus from a one time roadie for Ozzy, who described a ridiculous attempted séance sort of thing, apparently done more for the appearance to the other thoughtless persons gathered around.

[11]  The Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, edited by Rolling Stone, p. 846

[12]  See for example Aion, in the Portable Jung, p, 161-162 and notes 11 and 12; Vol 9 II, p. 22.

[13]  Galatians 4:10, Paul notes that the Galatians observe days and months and years” and fears he has labored over them in vain. The Calendar is conventional religion, a human thing, and not what the gospel is about.

[14]  Jung [possessed by the archetype]

[15]  Geoffrey of Monmouth implies that the family of Guinevere was from York (xi,2, p.259; ix.9, 221), though she was raised at Cornwall by Cador. The year is about 500 AD, and the English have been invading Britain for half a century, pushing Arthur’s people west, into Wales. Two centuries previous, St. Helen is from Colchester, the daughter of old King Cole, and Constantius, the father of Constantine, died at York. Constantine, the Emperor who turned Rome Christian, beginning the Middle Ages, was crowned at York, early in the fourth century. This would be the root of a Roman-British nobility at York. Guinevere may be connected to St. Helen too by her remarkable beauty. The Ninth Century history of Nennius establishes the outlines of the Arthurian legend as factual, prior to the Great Arthurian stories of the twelfth century. The memory of Christian Roman Britain is whipped out when Rome is no longer able to defend the fringes of the empire, after 409. The English are invited in to help against the Scots, in 449. The remnant of this special aristocracy is behind the legend of Arthurian Britain, lost in the mists of History as the dark age descends onto the region. The key question is why Gildas, writing in Latin from Brittany in the early sixth century, does not write of Arthur. He writes of Aurelius Ambrosius, a king in the 490’s, who others have as the uncle of Arthur. Gerard of Wales writes that he threw his books on Arthur into the sea from a grudge. He may have written just before Arthur, and fled the island when the English advanced. One wishes for a detailed history of the town of York.

[16]  Barney Hoyskins Hotel California, p. 100.

[17]  Davis, p. 57. The term “heavy Metal “was coined by William Burroughs, then used by Steppenwolf in Born to be Wild, Heavy Metal Thunder,” as Davis explains on page 104. Page rejects the label, and relates the term to “riff bashing,” while his own work is more tightly composed.

[18]  Ibid., p. 57.

[19]  Davis, p. 142

[xx]  Barney Hoskyns, Hotel California, pp. 94-96.

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