Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm A Million

The Unsung
I'm a million miles away
I'm a million miles away
Sailing like a driftwood
On a windy bay

- Rory Gallagher, "A Million Miles Away"

* * *

Songs, like poems and books, come in and out of your life in waves - crashing in, receding and making for shore again - and each successive round adds something that wasn't there before. Of course, what wasn't there before was you, the you you are at this moment, this one moment, the only moment there is. I've listened to Rory Gallagher for decades now, a gritty Irish blues that matched my own blues note for note, and truth to tell, I've missed the boat time and time again.

* * *

Don't think for a minute you are alone. Don't think for a minute you are the only one who has walked a hard path, suffered the loss of love, the loss of beloved ones, been lost. Don't you ever fucking indulge that fantasy. You read me? If anything fucks you up, it is that exceptionalism, that sense you were the first to ever walk the earth with a sack of woe, walk the earth in circles, walk heroically under your burden. It isn't true, so stop it.

Your stew of confusion, hurt and loss is particular to you, but there is nothing particular about confusion, hurt and loss. The longer you wallow in your unique miseries the longer it takes to unfuck your life. The world is littered with the detritus of confusion, hurt and loss. It is called music, art, literature, performance, ritual, myth, faith: solace. This is what human beings do when confronted with their lives, with the arrival of joy, the arrival of despair - they cry out their stories and join a chorus of stories stretching back millennia to the Caves of Chauvet.

You are not alone. You never were. You are just next.

* * *

The blues embraces what ain't right, gone wrong, unfair and lost. It embraces it, holds it close and wrestles it into a communion of recognition: you, too, motherfucker, you know what I'm talking about. That is why I play "A Million Miles Away" on an endless loop while I write. It soaks in, tells me I ain't alone. There was this guy name of Rory Gallagher who felt like I do and wrote it down and played it out and so I get to know what I already knew if I'd just had the balls to write it down and play it out.

The same thing when I look at the paleolithic paintings of Chauvet: horses, lions, mammoths, and the one insistent artist who had no means to give his name, but dabbed his palm print in red all over the cave: Kilroy was here, too.

We've been at this since we began.
You are not alone.
The key, the key, the key is to listen, look, attend.

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

* * *

Not Inferno:

The hotel bar has lost its people
The piano man has caught the last bus home
The old bartender sleeps in the corner
So why must I still be here?
I don't know

But I'm a million miles away
I'm a million miles away
Sailing like a driftwood 
On a windy bay

* * *

Boom. Boom. Boom.

___________

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