Oblivion #3 Easy listening
A year of nights/a month of days/ Octobers drifting into Mays/ I set my sail when the tide rolls in/and I cast my fate to the winds
I set my course just where I please /won’t sail upwind on memories/the empty sky is my best friend/and I cast my fate to the winds.
These words, more or less accurately, emblazoned in my memory from the 1960s. They are from the Vince Guaraldi song Cast Your Fate to the Wind. You might know of his work from the piano score to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Here’s the thing. I spent a good deal of my teen years listening to WPAT, a self termed beautiful music station based in Paterson NJ, basically easy listening.
That song, along with Sinatra standards such as Fly Me To the Moon, The Summer Wind, Autumn Leaves, was a fitting sound track to my hum drum existence.
I was a Beatlemaniac, for sure. I even wrote a poem on the occasion of the birth of John Lennon’s son Julian, which I sent to Cousin Brucie, the famed DJ who essentially made my life to date by reading it one evening on his show. I didn’t like my music to disturb me. I liked melodic tunes and graceful lyrics. The Rolling Stones? Meh. The Doors? No thank you. I couldn’t have told you a thing about Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin, although I was intrigued by the name Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Mostly, I went to school, did my homework, played clarinet in the band and read book after book after book. (All the while believing I was popular, remember that?) There WAS one signal event, worthy of an oblivion story of its own, but in the main, I was living an easy listening life. Anti war protests, assassinations, burning American inner cities, the seismic jolts of second wave feminism — what did it have to do with me? Go Frogs! 🐸 Beat Westbury!
When did that oblivion lift? I am not sure it entirely has. But I do remember this moment: In the spring of 1970 I was at MSU, when student protesters at Kent State were killed by the National Guard. MSU, generally as sleepy as its state rival U of M was agitated, exploded into demonstrations. Discussions and debate went round the clock. At one point, a classmate, a boy, looked at me in astonishment and just enough disgust to pierce my equanimity.
“You should watch the movie Woodstock,” he blurted, “and find out what your generation is up to.”
I remember being puzzled and disconcerted by his disdain. But I still haven’t seen the movie.