JAIMIE VERNON – THAT PEACEFUL EASY FEELING
Another week, another childhood music idol walks among the immortal choir. No sooner had we hosed off the glitter and put away our vinyl copies of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” we learned that Eagles founder Glenn Frey had passed from complications related to his dependence on medication to control severe rheumatoid arthritis and acute colitis.
It’s almost ironic that Frey didn’t die from his much publicized and heralded Rock ‘n Roll excesses that became a hallmark of every successful musician/band in the 1970s. But then it’s also a miracle that Keith Richards is still alive. No, Frey would be felled by nature. As did Bowie before him with that venomous killer of everything – cancer.
The death of our heroes has been punctuated by mortality. We cannot defeat it. We can only hope to dodge it, to fool it, to string it along as far as we can. It also means not wasting a single second or having a single regret while we’re here. We’re born. We live. We die. And humans really have a hard time with that middle part. The living part. It’ll kill ya. We live in hopes we’ll make a difference and impact the world – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. How that pans out is equal parts work and luck. But if we do work hard the luck becomes less necessary. We can overcome random chance and direct our destinies. Bowie did it and so did Glenn Frey. They got to live a dream. And we got to watch vicariously through their music our own struggles and battles with life. They provided the soundtrack to those victories, those losses, and those in between moments of mere existentialism.
These musicians have become interwoven with our lives. We’ve invited total strangers into our hearts to manipulate our emotions with words and melodies. It’s an invasion of privacy we’d never allow in any other circumstance except where art is concerned. Music. Paintings. Film. They occupy a room in our psyche. The opening notes of “Hotel California”, the plaintive acoustic-guitar fade-in of “Space Oddity”. They’re imprinted not just in our mind’s eye, but in our DNA. Music is a symbiotic virus. It spreads aurally and leaves a carbon footprint that cannot be erased. When Alzheimers patients and those suffering dementia are exposed to music, it can break through barriers and rekindle memories. Music therapy is the new prescription for what ails us all. That’s some powerful, neuron firing mojo right there.
This is why we’re sad when artists die. It’s as if we knew them personally. Their music reminds us of what it’s like to fall in love. The response is nearly the same in our brains. Remember when you heard your favourite song for the first time? BAM! You instantly yearn to hear it again. You listen to it over and over. You’d wear out the grooves on a piece of vinyl; Black plastic turned white as the needle carved its way into that song…that album….that life experience. You can never forget it. It’s like a chocolate craving. You want to eat it until you feel ill. Sated. Overwhelmed with endorphins. That peaceful, easy feeling. And then you want more. And the artist does it again. Another song. Another album. Another chance to make love to something new without cheating on your lover.
For others that love is nowhere to be found. It’s why some artists resonate with us and others don’t. You can’t be in love with every stranger whispering sweet codas in your ear. You pick and choose who you want rattling your cage. And if this sounds like hippie-dippy shit it just might be. We’ve got 30 million songs in our pop culture vocabulary and so few that succinctly nail those Hallmark squishy moments we feel inside when we adopt a puppy or hold our babies for the first time. Melody can do it. Words can too. Marrying both together for the perfect one-two-punch of pathos, empathy and brilliant songcraft is as rare as a courteous taxi driver. But they do exist. Our generation has turned them into standards and with good reason. They’re timeless and will carry on long after we’ve gone and long after that cover band has finished their 1000th play of “Sweet Home Alabama”. Without further ado and for your flashback consumption are some of our greatest Boomer hits:
DESPERADO – THE EAGLES
MAYBE I’M AMAZED – PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS
GOD ONLY KNOWS – THE BEACH BOYS
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND – CAROLE KING
SOUNDS OF SILENCE – SIMON & GARFUNKEL
FIRE & RAIN – JAMES TAYLOR
WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN – THE CARPENTERS
ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) – GILBERT O’SULLIVAN
THESE EYES – THE GUESS WHO
MERCY MERCY ME – MARVIN GAYE
IMAGINE – JOHN LENNON
TIME IN A BOTTLE – JIM CROCE
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ – MAMAS & PAPAS
WOODSTOCK – MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD
HEART OF GOLD – NEIL YOUNG
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN – CROSBY STILLS & NASH
IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND – GORDON LIGHTFOOT
YOUR SONG – ELTON JOHN
EASY – THE COMMODORES
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Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com http://gwntertainment.wix.com/jaimievernon