I can see the room. It's a little scruffy and smells like pot and incense. (Yes that's a cliche but there you are.) There's a mattress on the floor, crazy Berkeley posters on the wall, a turntable and speakers, one window over the bed, another on the long wall. Lots of bookcases, record albums, a coffee grinder for stems and seeds, a big old stuffed chair, and us.
It was a long time ago. Hasn't crossed my mind in years. Then, right there, on the Spotify singer-songwriter channel, comes a young Leonard Cohen singing this:
Music is dangerous. Suddenly I was back in Massachusetts almost half a century ago, when Suzanne, and Sisters of Mercy too, were part of my lexicon, along with everything from Milord
to Ruby Tuesday
to Blowin' in the Wind.
Years ago Garry Trudeau published a Doonesbury thta included the line "You've stolen the sound track of my life!" I don't remember the context but it's disconcertinly accurate, as he usually is. Every song is a movie of the past, running -- sometimes joyously, sometimes with enormous sadness, in my head.
It was such a different time, full of righteous anger and, at the same time, joy at being alive, sometimes in love, always part of the changes taking place all around us, many at our instigation.
Now, as we face the rage and disappointment of many of our children and their peers, it's kind of heartbreaking to look back with such nostalgia at a time that they clearly see as debauched and destructive and, even worse, egocentric and selfish.
It's paricularly hard when these songs rise up, so transporting. Everyone, if they're lucky, has fond recollections of the younger times in their lives. But for me, as the music carries me there, it was so much more. Hope, freedom, equality, beauty, love and peace -- every song an anthem moving us forward. And lovers in a scruffy dorm room, a little bit stoned, listening, and sometimes, singing along.