An American Tune

I love The Writer’s Almanac. Hosted by Garrison Keillor, the 5-minute radio program delivers a daily poetry reading, along with pertinent historical events for the date in question. There is an emphasis on events in the world of literature and the arts, but occasionally there are historical points which carry a certain relevance to the events of the day. Today’s edition was one of those, on two counts. Here’s an example:

It’s the birthday of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, born in Grantham, England, in 1925. She said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” (emphasis mine)

This quote has got me thinking about our future as a nation, especially as it relates to dealing with others. I believe that we can present ourselves in a position of strength without having to resort to the kind of foreign policy that has sullied our reputation abroad for the last 8 years.

Mrs. Thatcher’s quote reminds me of the West African proverb put to use so effectively by Theodore Roosevelt; “
Speak softly and carry a big stick“. The Wikipedia entry for the policy associated with this proverb referenced issues with Venezuela and Cuba during TR’s presidency; Interesting given contemporary issues in the same places.

The second entry today was coincidental to hearing from a former co-worker and blogger, who lives in California. I made him a CD when he moved back there from GJ, and one of the songs on that CD crept into my head and wouldn’t go away. Then came today’s Writer’s Almanac, which said:

It’s the birthday of singer and songwriter Paul Simon, born in Newark, New Jersey, (1941). In 1964, he and his friend Art Garfunkel recorded a folk album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. It was a flop, and Paul Simon moved back in with his parents. But without telling Simon and Garfunkel, a producer added electric guitar, bass, and drums to the song “The Sound of Silence” and released it as a single. It went to No. 1 on the pop charts.

Simon and Garfunkel were one of my earliest musical influences; my mother liked them, and I played Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Water on the stereo over and over again, fascinated with the harmonies and lyrics that you just didn’t hear anywhere else.

The song in my mind is one that is still relevant 30 years after it was written; it goes a long way to describe how many of us feel today. I found a good video of it, and will let the song do the talking.

Time for me to get some rest, too. Have a great day.

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the ages most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

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