Saturday, March 26, 2011
And the flowers bloomed like madnessIt was the anger. The anger and the wit. The anger, the wit, and the intelligence. Mixed with a crazy rock 'n' roll bass line and the passionate drive of the brilliantly deranged.
Aqualung. The album was my bible in my last days of high school. I played it in my eight-track in my Chevy Impala Super Sport and then later in my dorm rooms and in my single apartments. I sang and cried and lived by the riffs, the achingly perfect breaks, the volume, the words.
It got me through my bitter divorce with organized religion. It saw me through emotional upheaval and uncertainty of a nature I couldn't begin to articulate. It accompanied me off my high school campus to smoke cigarettes and hang with the smart angry political crowd. It went with me to college, took road trips with me, sang me to sleep. It fed me words. And it spoke for me when I had none left.
Jethro Tull is doing a 40 year revival tour of Aqualung. We just booked tickets to fly to Phoenix to see a show, as the show in L.A. directly conflicts with a fundraiser I'm doing with Opera A La Carte. (Rock 'n' roll lives forever, but Gilbert & Sullivan takes some work to preserve.) We are cutting out of work early, flying in for the show, staying overnight and then sliding back into town just in time to set up lights and run a production. Then the next weekend my son graduates high school. And two days later Roger has surgery. And the beat goes on, on either side of this moment we have decided to carve out for ourselves.
So this is our present to us. I could not be happier if I had a boat load of Prozac. Or any drug, licit or otherwise. We cleaned the house this morning, with the system cranked up listening to the old fabulous tracks. We are nearly forty years past high school. We are bogged down with Schedule Cs and HELOCs and FAFSAs and work commitments and career choices. We are in our mid-fifties, and are actively managing the deaths of our parents, the flight of our children. The words inside my head intone "if not now, when?" with insistent monotony, louder every day, while the heaviness in my heart grows. The answer, at this point, for many things, could actually be "never." We're at that point.
When I first lived and breathed by the Aqualung code, I had other passions consuming my heart and head. Freedom was something to be fought for, clawed for, won at any cost. The imperative was to get out, to become myself, to be born. It was as painful as any labor, leaving me coughed up on the beaches of young adulthood, panting and disoriented for years. I thought I'd seen it all. And yet I never would have guessed that the fire was a finite resource. That in the face of all the keeping on, we could someday lose the juice.
So grabbing at this opportunity is more than just spending our grown-up paychecks on a high school remix. It's a defiance against the mandates of prioritization. It's a wrestling against the density of our schedules. And it's an up yours to the perplexing way the checkbook ledgers diminish even as we work harder and harder.
It feels good. It feels good to reconnect with that anger and drive. We should all periodically give the finger to this middle aged shit. It's really such a very inadequate way to reward ourselves for making it thus far.
Crank something up today. Crank up the music that got you through. Spend a few minutes remembering who you were and what credos you lived by and what dreams kept you sustained. And maybe... maybe... just do one of those dreams. Strum a few chords. Book a couple of tickets. Write a blog. Do it. In honor of your own bad self who suffered so much that you could live. In gratitude for all you've been through to get to this point, today, in your long strange trip.
May you be defiant.
May you be triumphant.
And may the flowers bloom like madness in the spring.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 12:58 PM 4 comments