It’s a new year full of resolution, or resolutions.
This time last year I was faced with entering my 50th year and now I am in the last month of that year. Soon I will actually be 50 and whatever that means. In fact this time next week will be the moment.
I wrote a list, checked it twice and ignored some of it and some I did not. But the year passed and I found myself rambling here sometimes several times a week. I actually started to get people reading my meandering thoughts and at times sharing the same bizarre pre-occupations with 70’s rock, noises of an electronic variety and vinyl. I even managed to communicate at times.
I went to a lot of gigs and bought a lot of records. Some because of what I read that others were listening to. I also managed to not be so embarrassed about some of the things I still get a kick out of putting on the record player.
I also managed to buy two turntables this year after realizing the cheap one would not do, now I am on the search for a good amp and some suitable speakers if my wife will let me.
We got rid of the house we were struggling to pay for and moved to a slower more rural area. Where else would you see a brahma bull walking down main street on the 4th? Or wander down the road and see a store called the Man Shop. I still have not had the nerve to enter, in my mind though it is fully stocked with mustache curling paraphernalia, guns and knives, the type of store in which you could outfit yourself for an expedition or a Sunday stroll.
I swam in a moving river for the first time in many years. It is a beautiful river by the way but a long way down a dirt road and four wheel drive may be required.
I picked my eldest up from jail, now I know how my Dad often felt all those years ago. He survived and is living with us again for awhile, which makes me happy, in fact it makes me very happy all I have to do is figure out how to tell him. Which is a lot harder than you may think at times.
We had a strange disjointed but enjoyable Christmas.
We only only went camping once this last year but it was an excellent camp and the dog got in the canoe without complaint. Yes I know those are Kayaks but there was no real good picture of the canoe and the dog.
So this evening I sat down to listen to something I have loved for most of my life. On the Beach by Neil Young. I first heard it at the age of ?? slumped in my friend Dave’s apartment. He basically held me hostage and fed me Miller Lite until I got it, Miller Lite was on sale that week in the off-license. This was how Dave decided what to drink. It had nothing to do with taste it was the best for the least cost at the time, it was also usually American as he was a fan of all things from the USA at the time. If you had asked our friends at the time it would be him they would lay money on living in the USA.
On the beach can be a strange trip. It falls in the middle of the infamous Ditch Trilogy. It is the most accessible in a lot of ways, it is funny at times, folky at others and harrowing all the way through. It is the album version of The Road. The vision of America it produces is as true today as it was then, serial killers, suspicion, corporations raping the earth and coke fueled edginess. The names have changed but the paranoia stays the same.
Somewhere in that stew is a hope, it may be only in a sky waiting to rain or the turn of the turnstiles but it is there. It may be in the reflection of the past but the bravery of the album is in it’s honesty. Not as big a mess as Time Fades Away or Tonight’s the Night but still as essential.
For a long time it was really difficult to find a copy. Dave had one we found in a cutout record store. There was only one there and on the day we bought it the owner despaired as he was unaware it was sitting in the back of a stack of Andy Williams albums. He swore he would not have sold it if he had been on the register. He looked longingly at the jacket as we walked away. He did however do the honorable thing and allow it to go.
It was also not released for a long time on CD for some reason known only to Neil Young. I still have never really read a good reason. When it was finally released it was one of the first albums in a long time that I bought on release day.
We may have played that record to death and stared at the strange beach cover for hours and enjoyed the garish inside yellow lounge chair design of the jacket. We spent hours arguing about what the lyrics meant, this changed almost daily. The thing that always stayed the same though was at the end of the day when everything else had been played or done On The Beach would always ground you. Leave you feeling that there was a reason to all the silliness that had gone before.
It is one of those albums which for some reason leaves you with the sense that you have connected with the performer. You have gone on a journey and even though it was tough you made it, the demons are slain and you can sit back and feel the mellow glow of a shared experience. Of course at the end of the day what really makes the record is that there is absolutely no filler on there, every song is a classic.
Anyway you should probably ignore all that went before because all you need to know is:
Get out of town, think I’ll get out of town
Get out of town, think I’ll get out of town
I head for the sticks with my bus and friends,
I follow the road, though I don’t know where it ends
Get out of town, get out of town, think I’ll get out of town