I don't know about anyone else but when I think about my life I always go back to my late teens and early 20's as being the most alive, or more accurately, most evolving and changing. Maybe that's the same thing. Changing/evolving equals alive.
It was at that time I began emerging like a chick from a shell. I became aware of the outer world. And what I saw I attached myself to in a way that imprinted itself on me for most of my life. Music of that time was one of the strongest influences on me. Why music?
In those days our lives rolled out to the soundtrack of rock and roll, blues, motown, jazz, and country. Looking back it seems like music was everywhere with everything we did. We became infected.
The first thing I ever bought on my own was the first Beatles album after seeing them on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles and the Stones were my musical ushers. We knew the words to every song on every album by heart. We sang "I Saw Her Standing There" in the school yard at recess with air guitars. My cousin Joey and I sang "Please Mr. Postman" to the postman when he came with the mail.
Then the Red Sox won the pennant in '67 and the highlights played out to the music of "The Impossible Dream." To this day I cannot hear that song without getting goosebumps and recalling the joy of that summer.
Then came girls and parking and making out while Van Morrison and dozens of other singers sang love songs. We reflected on life with Bob Dylan. We got stoned listening to Santana and Steppenwolf. We protested war with Woodstock. Even learned to appreciate harmony with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
Back then we knew that Black Lives Mattered and loved Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Diana Ross, and a host of others.
Over the years and with age the role of music changed. Instead of informing and inspiring, it became a medicine to heal the wounds inflicted on us through living. Dancing became a bit more mechanical.
Now, as life slows down again, I find myself alive and dancing like the teenager again. Rediscovering the bands that midwifed me into who I became. Quite surprised, as in welcoming back my first best friend Joey Shea into my life again, finding that we have changed little and the smile and playful kids are nearly exactly as remembered. These days I go everywhere with my ipod and music playing in my ears to drown out the constant noise of living here in Vietnam. And there has been a huge qualitative change in my life as I find myself so much happier because instead of thinking and worrying, I'm singing along to my songs!
As I write this Bob Dylan is playing in my earphones singing, and this is my wish for you :
"May your hands always be busy, May your feet always be swift.
May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changing shift.
May your heart always be joyful. May your song always be sung.
May you stay forever young."