Long roads, high mountains and deep oceans

Long roads, high mountains and deep oceans

Two weeks ago it was “on the road again” for us – the life of migrant labourers; driving on the N7 towards Springbok. Fields of green galore but, alas, no red roses yet. In fact, no flowers yet. But, give it a month or two and it’s a whole different ball game en route to Namibia. By then there will be carpets of oranges, purples, yellows and white everywhere. And it is simply awe-inspiring.
We do work for a mine in the Northern Cape – something we have been doing for a number of years now, except, for the last seven or eight months.

Since our official contract ended with them at the end of last year, we hadn’t done any work for them until now. It seems that the impact of the work was, after all, worthwhile. But enough of that…what I actually wanted to talk about was the fact that it was kind of nice to be “on the road again”; to listen to the music again, and to see the beauty of our land again. Living and working in the city doesn’t afford us enough opportunity to stand outside our lives and to look in, and to even appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

Anyhooo, the music I referred to earlier…I whipped out all the oldies (but goodies); all the blasts from the past; all the playbacks from way back; the raves from the graves…you remember?
I mean how can one go wrong with an eclectic mix that includes the likes of Joni Mitchell, Sting, Janice Ian, Joan Baez, Jim Croce, Carole King, The Beatles, Dionne Warwick, Adele, Bob Marley, UB40, Diana Ross and a few compilations that I put together myself for these trips up the N7…the ones that have a bit of a one-hit wonder theme, or a bit of a toe-tapping, body-jiggling jive.

We played a little game: if ever there was a concert that someone says they would turn the clock back for, and you may attend, which would it be?
We ran through a few of the iconic ones like Live Aid in 1985, or ANY Queen Concert before Freddie Mercury died. Michael Jackson got a mention, as did good ol’ Amy Winehouse. But Simon & Garfunkel’s reunion concert in Central Park won hands down.

In fact we spoke at length about the education that we got from our music through the years…and how it assisted with our perspectives on life.
We also pondered what the legacy of modern music would be for the youngsters these days. Is it merely going to be how to “smack your b!tch up”? Or how to “shake your big fat booty”? Or how “your milkshake might bring all the boys to the yard”?

The music I listened to, as a teenager, was the very music that taught me many life lessons that I still use today. In fact, I told the story of how I once used two Simon & Garfunkel quotes to set an English composition (now essay) for standard nine (now grade 11) pupils (now learners). They had to choose to write a composition, illustrating their understanding of (and relate a story qualifying it) of the following lyrics: “After changes upon changes we are more or less the same…” OR “A pocketful of mumble such are promises” (from ‘The Boxer’).
Then we spoke about lyrics that just stick as poetry would; lines that made one feel like one is not alone in one’s off-centre take on the world. Lines like Joni Mitchell’s: “It’s coming on Christmas; they’re cutting down trees; they are putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace.

I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” Or lines that made one feel so good inside, because you just can’t believe someone had come up with such lyricism: “A part of you flows out in me in these lines from time to time,” says Mitchell in ‘ A Case of You’. Or, in the same song, she says: “I could drink a case of you and I would still be on my feet…” OR “We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall keeping us tied and true.”

Sincere, unique and believable lyrics. Infinitely better than “off the shelf” lyrics that have singers “swimming the deepest oceans and climbing the highest mountains”, and always “down on their knees, begging someone please…”.

If you ask me, most of these deep-sea mariners and mountaineers have probably never even sauntered up a little hill, or perhaps they can’t even swim. Or, if asked what the highest mountain is, may not even know the answer!
Yet, they have the audacity to write about it…all part of this wonderfully plastic and fake world, methinks…
I understand fully what Gladys Knight meant when she said: “I remember a time when music made you feel like falling in love…when will they find that magic (again)?”