Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life By The Smile


We all know how influential music can be to our psyche. You hear a song and you are instantly transported to another place in time. For me, if I hear Gerry Rafferty doing Baker Street, it’s the summer of 1978 and I am a 19-year old jammin’ around Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in my black Camaro Z-28. If I hear Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, it’s 1986 and I’m drinking beer at Double Roads in Juno Beach, Florida, cliff jumping with my bud Gary. Kid Rock’s Bawitdaba is summer of 2000, and I am walking hand in hand with Carrie, my girlfriend at the time.
Powerful stuff, music. It time-stamps our memory. A System Restore checkpoint if you will.
Beyond evoking pleasant memories, every now and then a song comes out with a phrase that makes you back the tape (or cd or iphone) up to listen to again. When I hear such phrases, I tend to wear them for a while - Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…You cross a lawyer with the Godfather you get an offer you can’t understand (that was Don Henley, Gimme What You Got, from 1986 btw)…Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…
These aren’t time machine-variety memories, these are more credos we adopt, so they differ from that first set of examples I gave.
Then there are lyrics that make you stop, think and go, FUCK-IN-A YES!!! Transcendental thoughts or perhaps introductions to new way of looking at things. If I dare say, lyrics that make you intuitively handle situations that used to baffle. Potentially life-changing stuff. Well, in this category, I place the following lyric:
“I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused.”
This is from Red Shoes, by Elvis Costello, circa 1978. I first heard that when I was 19, and the resonance of it escaped me at the time, mainly because I lacked the perspective needed to truly grasp its depth. Or maybe because I was smoking a lot of pot. Whatever. Anyway, the other day I came across a Youtube clip of Elvis doing Red Shoes in concert when he sang that lyric, and I just froze. Then I chuckled.
See, since 1978, when I first heard that to now, I have been, let’s just say, around the block a few times. I have had enough life experiences - and been disgusted enough times - to recognize the inherent, timeless wisdom of that phrase. I lived most of my adult life disgusted. This person would tick me off or that situation. And I rebelled. I would let the world know - THIS ISN’T FAIR.
Well, there was my first lesson. Nothing is fair. Life is not designed with fairness in mind. The cosmos are not programmed to dole out fairness to Jerry, or anyone else. We get what we get. So the key, as I have found out, is how to deal with that. And one of the options is to be disgusted. Thing is, that does not change anything, except my attitude. It makes it worse. And as a result of that, I tend to do bad things to myself, let alone piss off everyone around me.
There had to be a better way.
Well, there is. And I will not go into the details of what that better way is, as it would send this story on another tangent. What I will say is I have taken Elvis’s advice. I now try to be amused.
The beauty of this is multifaceted. One, I am now smiling. Two, I am laughing at this world and all its dysfunction. Three, I am not responsible for any of it, only my side of the street, so I basically let the dervishes whirl. You all are now here for my entertainment, not my judgment. Now, that may not be the most spiritual way of looking at things, but it beats getting pissed off about it.
So the world will spin. To all the disease, hatred, wars, famine, clueless politicians, dopey people texting while driving, homeless people having their dignity robbed, crack babies, bosses with their heads jammed up their sphincters, Casey Anthony, Casey Anthony protesters, Casey Anthony’s attorneys, donkey poker players catching inside straights with 4-7 in the hole, here’s my request:
Amuse me.

2 comments:

Dawn said...

Bawitaba really is the perfect song for a romantic stroll...

Actually, when I hear that one? I am reminded of the first time I went to a strip joint.

Jerry B said...

Hey, maybe I was a G with a Forty & she was a chick with a beeper...