Lean On Me

Rock & Roll Hall of FameBill Withers, Stevie Wonder, John Legend perform “Lean On Me” at the 2015 Induction Ceremony – Apr 3, 2020

I had to go looking to remind myself who it was that had written that great song that I loved. Who was it that the coronavirus killed the other day? That guy? That guy who sang a song about being there when someone needed you? Wasn’t that the song? I had to not only remind myself that his name was Bill Withers, but I had to then recognize the chorus line so that I would know the song title.

Lean on Me. Yes. That song. That guy. Bill Withers. Him too, then? One more grandfather we let die because we can’t be bothered to spend some of our precious treasure to make sure that there are procedures and tests and quarantine measures and hospital beds and whatever else that we need to invest in so that we can stop disease from spreading unchecked through our cityscapes. How many more will we lose? Will it be worse than AIDS this time? Will it hurt more this time than it hurt when Freddie Mercury died and I had to listen to friends spit on him and call him faggot?

I wonder. I really do wonder. Hat/tip to Billboard for being there when I needed someone to remind me of the things I had forgotten. I was reminded of this today because John Prine died today. I can’t name a single one of his songs that I know and love, but I know his name anyway. Ellis Marsalis I can remember too, and I can’t say that I’m a jazz fan. How about Adam Schlesinger? If you watch TV you probably know his work.

(Billboard’s list of musicians who have died to the Coronavirus)

Get ready. Get ready, because there is going to be a lot more of this kind of sadness going around before this tragedy is over.

Facebook – Jimmy Buffett

The Tide is Turning

The Tide is Turning is what I felt on discovering that the Democrats had won such a major victory in the midterms. It took a few days to sink in, but it is a sentiment that I echoed to many people who lamented that the Senate did not flip to Democratic during the midterms. The Senate had almost no chance of flipping, as the number crunchers over at fivethirtyeight.com tried to point out, repeatedly.

The Tide is Turning is the title and refrain of a Roger Waters song, a tribute to Live Aid. I was reminded of Live Aid when I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody recently. I had never looked back on that event, and it’s music, as having been such an influence. Watching the recreation of Queen’s performance at that event as portrayed in the film, I was struck by how quaint it was. How quaint it was that the world got together and raised funds for the starving children in Africa back in 1985.

Quaint that we thought we could just change the world with that one event. Here we are, 33 years later. None the wiser, and one whole hell of a lot more cynical. And yet. And yet.

The midterm results show that the cynics are passing into irrelevance once again. There is no other way to read those returns. The largest shift in the membership of the House of Representatives in a generation. A Democratic shift all through the body politic, across all the states and the federal government. The tide truly appears to be turning once again, and it is about damn time too.

Roger Waters – Radio K.A.O.S. – The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid)

I remember listening to a copy of Radio K.A.O.S. shortly after its release. This song brought me to tears even then. Raised on M*A*S*H, self identifying with the hippies and long hairs more than I ever did with the high and tights of my time, the notion that technology could be taken out of the hands of the military and used make human lives better was a dream I most fondly wanted to see come true.

It still hasn’t come true, but the first sense of nostalgia that I’ve ever experienced, a longing for the good ol’ days, days that might actually have been better, was watching Rami Malek embody what it was to be
Freddie Mercury on screen. Watching him perform at Live Aid and realizing that Queen’s performance at Live Aid would go down in history as the peak of their popularity. That Live Aid itself codifies what it means to truly be human, to care about others to such a degree that you would give completely of yourself to save them. I just wish that we had gone on to take AIDS seriously enough that we could have saved Freddie Mercury.

But the world is changing. Change holds hope. Which is good, because frankly I haven’t had much reason to hope since 1999.

Satellite buzzing through the endless night, exclusive to moonshots and world title fights. Jesus Christ, imagine what it must be earning.

Roger Waters – Radio K.A.O.S. – The Tide is Turning