Oh! to return to that time, place and space of yesterday's papers. Back when I was young, undaunted and sure of nothing, stronger than an oak, spellbound in innocence. Back when being seventeen was wide-eyed and ‘rarin to go, driven by the magical, heady arrogance of youth. Back to that time of transitional transmissions when the curtain was torn down, rent asunder. Back when the radio was kept hidden under the pillow, when the new world dawned in the dark lightness of night. Back when the North Sea was the liquid platform and the ethereal fluidity coursed astride the wavelengths. Back when new sounds invaded the eagerly awaiting shore, adding fuel to the dying embers. Back when the pirates defied the established quotient, afloat on the high sea, blasting the music across the waves from rusted, leaking vessels, in glorious triumph. Back when the snowball rolled frantic, downhill, its course plotted straight for the sanctuary of Hell.
Back when the split in the Irish camp was finalized, the old spells and curses trampled underfoot and the revolution begun, its savior, the music, the angry, vocal leader, the clarion call for change that would not nor could not be ignored. Back when war was the ever-present companion. Back when the FBI and the CIA and the IRA and the BBC and the fingerprint files crowded and smothered the senses. Back when blood flowed crimson down the streets of my town, congealed and then stained the Holy ground. Back when Bobby starved to death in Long Kesh prison camp, his fingernails blackened. His body consumed from within. Skeletal remains a stark reminder of nine more to follow his lead, willing politcal pawns.
Back when Joe escaped to the sanctuary of Manhattan and tended bar at Clancy's, until the canary sang his traitors song. Back when Fergal was shot to death on a Sunday morning after mass, another innocent slaughtered. Back when one man one vote was still just a dream. Back when the street fighting men were on fire. The fighting men from Crossmaglen, harried, hunted, revered. Pacifists turned reluctant, universal soldiers for the cause. Back when Sunday was bloodied in Derry, thirteen their number. Gone. Immortals now. Back when the women in Armagh Jail were violated, invaded and defiled.
Yet through it all there was the music. Saving me, shielding me and thrilling me. Back then I was Jumping Jack Flash. Strutting and swaggering, being me and Jagger as one, flippin’ the switch. No one was gonna make a saint out of me, that was certain. Back then I was the midnight rambler, seeking sympathy from the Devil, craving redemption, crawling up the stairway to god knows where. Back then the Rolling Stones rocked London town and then the whole wide world. Back then Cocker sang about “too many lovers and not enough love.” What did he know, with his arms flailing like a drunken windmill and his soul stripped bare for all to see? Back then Dylan was our prophet, the minstrel, the piper at the gates, changing the times with his goading sneers. “The times they are a-changin,” he warned. Back then Marley, the seer, simplified it all, showed us the pathway to one love, one heart. “Let’s all get together” he said.
Back then Plato, drilled me, showed me, pushed me, but I in my throes always knew better and blindly rushed headlong, toward my blurred, unreachable horizon. Not knowing then that ‘You can't always get what you want.’ Not realizing then that I didn’t know what I wanted. With the mentality of the lemming, breaking on through to the other side. A Savage savant, heedless, arrogant and lost. Back then I courted the stray cats, the blues and the honky tonk women and ignored Leonard. What the hell did Cohen know about love and suffering and pain and heartache anyway, with his burning violin bullshit and the end of love crap? Hendrix burning the strat! He was my man! The highway child. The voodoo man in the voodoo lounge. Merciless and mercifully dead before his time, gone in a purple haze of glory. “Hey Joe, where do you think you’re going with that gun in your hand?”
Back then Morrison stormed the psyche with his sultry voice and set us ablaze. ‘Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel,’ he sang. Then, left us for Paris high and the left bank and Sacre Couer on the hill and Pere Lachaise in the valley. The philosopher poet, the lizard king, Mr. Mojo risin’. Back then Brian, the maestro, the golden-haired illusionist drowned in his lonesome supplication. A little red rooster crowing aloud, a Rolling Stone who refused to gather moss, time not on his side.
Back then John imagined that all we needed was love, but took the bullet instead near the strawberry field. “Mother, you had me, but I never had you,” he cried. Back then Janis, the perfect, shining pearl, dulled by her own private cucifixion, at full tilt in a Porsche, foot to the floor. Her heart shattered in a thousand pieces. Back then Keith died before he got old, out in one last triumphant drumroll. Back then George rode the quiet, dark horse and went to play for his sweet lord, his guitar gently weeping. Back then Kurt, saddened but no more in sufferance, took the last red eye to his own private Nirvana, his refuge. Back then Amy, the black butterfly fluttered and faded, and went back to black. They’re all dust in the wind now. Aloft, departed, everlasting, and loved.
But through it all there was Michael and Jesus, watching, protecting and suffering alongside. My guides, my mentors, forgiving saviors. With me as I crossed unfamiliar oceans, wasted deserts and ancient valleys drowned in the dust of ages past, ever seeking. Finding myself back at the familiar cross roads, puzzled, stupefied and bewildered, but safe. And I'm still standing here, waiting. and I still know nothing...
From "Don't Die with Regrets: Ireland and the Lessons my Father Taught Me."
For Sale at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615975860
Also for Sale:
The Journey: A Nomad Reflects.