A Storm Is Threatening My Very Life Today
I must have watched it a dozen times the last two days. Maybe fifteen. Maybe more, because that’s the way we roll in this house. “If some is good, more is better” is one of the sacred tenets of our marriage.
I’m talking about the recording on YouTube of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” from Madison Square Garden in 2009. It was the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert. I’d heard the original (from Let It Bleed, with Merry Clayton as female back up) on a Pandora station when I was on the treadmill not long ago. It served as a reminder to go back and look up the live version online.
The performance includes Fergie, formerly of the Black Eyed Peas, with her knee-high boots and “baby baby baby baby” à la Janis Joplin, along with U2 and Mick Jagger. I’d get to the applause part, slide the icon back to the left and start over. Over and over again. If some is good…
That’s doubtless why I woke up with the first few lyrics in my mind and thought “That’s the epic sweep of these past twelve months, right there.”
Ooh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Ooh yeah, I’m going to fade away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Taken out of context (which I definitely did) or not, the words provide a lens thorough which to look at the whole arc of this benighted COVID year. I get to do that because I’m the god of this piece. I am master of the skull-sized kingdom in my head, as David Foster Wallace put it.
It’s no stretch to substitute “virus” for the threatening storm, and “home” (where it’s safe) for shelter. Taking the liberty of changing war to “cure” (or some even better rhyming word), we are just a shot away, given the vaccinations taking place worldwide.
March 11, 2020, the storm was beginning to threaten, officially a pandemic, and most of us headed for shelter. Now, a year later, we are just a shot away (or two, depending on which one you get).
I know it is a reach, repurposing a classic rock song for my own use. In the largest sense, though, it is just another attempt at getting arms around a mystery, like we have all been doing. Where to put this? What does it mean?
One year ago, I pondered,
“Anyway the WHO has officially labeled this a pandemic and a microscopic virus without limbs has brought the world to its knees. Whether it’s spread by aerosol or droplet or is a fomite (left on a surface) this little creature has done what all world leaders combined can’t do or couldn’t do. I can’t pretend I don’t have a kind of grudging respect for this kind of power, like a hurricane or tsunami, blizzard or earthquake. It’s humbling for homo sapiens. It might kill me or someone I love, but still. Is this a version of Tennyson’s nature red in tooth and claw? May you live in interesting times, indeed, as the proverb goes.
This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, apparently. We ain’t seen nothing yet. So, ‘flatten the curve’ is the directive. What we’re seeing now is from two weeks ago, like a star whose light was emitted long ago and is just now reaching earth.”
March is here again. We’re just a shot away!