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How He Suffered For His Sanity

Posted by djingodjango on Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There are few perfect songs, perhaps because there are few perfect people with few perfect ears to hear. I count myself with those who lack the sensitivity it requires to identify such perfection.

But I think "Vincent" by Don McLean comes close.

A good song tells a story and fills you with sadness and delight when the words and the tune fit seamlessly. You feel well fed after such songs, like a bird sitting by a fountain, having eaten your fill of the small scampering life around and now resting with a drop or two of cool fountain water falling from your beak. 

Such is the way I felt when I first heard "Vincent". The chorus drapes upon your ears with "Starry, starry night." and ends with the sweet pain of "..perhaps they never will."

It is the colors of Van Gogh that have always pulled me into his paintings. The 'complimentary colors' as he called them. Reds and greens, purples and orange, yellow and umber. He tried with a fierce intensity to capture light, but of course, he couldn't. No artist can capture that which is perceived in the mind of the viewer. It is too personal.

And no one can write a song and have it impact the listener as he intended for, again, it is subjective and does not transfer its intention fully, although, in some cases, it can communicate in part. 

McCleans'  "American Pie is the "Mona Lisa" of songs and can't be heard without the listener smiling and shaking his or hear head with recognition and some comfort. "Ah yes." We say with tenderness. "Boy, that has been around for a long time." And we smile again.

But within lies a generations longing of hope and fear and musical grief that life did not give us what we had hoped for, but only what we have earned.

Paul Simon struck a nerve with "America" and "The Boxer" and so many others. Good songs, some that tell imperfect stories and some that are close to perfect, as with "Richard Corey" who went home last night and put a bullet through his head.

Bob Dylan is an albatross that hangs around the neck of people our age with songs and memories so thick, as W. P. Kinsela says in "Shoeless Joe", you must reach out and brush them away.  Sad songs like "Hollis Brown". Uplifting songs, like "Blowing in the Wind" angry songs such as "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll" and "Hurricane". And songs that ramble on about who we are and where we have been, like "Tangled Up In Blue". 

You surely have a perfect song in your mind. What would it be? 




4 comments on “How He Suffered For His Sanity”

Karen Kruske Says:
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 @11:51:55 AM

Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" says it all for me. Thanks for asking.

lbartosh Says:
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 @3:04:10 AM

George, nicely stated and all so true. I've always been one to listen too much to the instruments and not enough to the words, but the songs you mention surely have stuck in my mind thru all the years. A simple bluegrass tune that I love to remember is "there is a time" from an old Dillards recording. Not a real story like the ones in your comments but still a simple message that has meaning to me, especially as I get older.
Thanks for the post and have a great day.

Bigg Hans Says:
Friday, July 29, 2011 @12:07:43 PM

Denver's 'Poems, Prayers and Promises' is the kind of tune of which you write. Croce had an entire catalogue of them. Guthrie, too.

Ks_5-picker Says:
Friday, July 29, 2011 @6:00:02 PM

"Wild mountain flowers for Mary" took on a new meaning for me when my wife passed 13 yrs ago.Now I try to pick wild flowers along the side of the road on the way to her grave on memorial day.Her name was............Mary Durst.

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