Saturday, March 5, 2022

I Was So Much Older Then...

'My Back Pages/Baby What You Want Me To Doby The Byrds

 Songwriter: Bob Dylan

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Countless with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
We'll meet on edges, soon, said I
Proud 'neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
Rip down all hate, I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
Sisters fled by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
My guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
In the 1960s the folk-rock band The Byrds from Los Angeles had a remarkable impact on the mindset of many of us who came 'of age' in that pivotal post-WW2 decade of shift in the zeitgeist of Western belief. Indeed,"Few of The Byrds' contemporaries can claim to have made such a subversive impact on popular culture.The band had a much larger, more positive impact on the world at large than any Billboard chart position or album sales or concert attendance figure could possibly measure." (Domenic Priore (2007) 'Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in 60s Hollywood' Jawbone Press). 
We are today in the early years of another decade of great change in perspective. In the 1960s we were deep in the Cold War, the era of Mutually Assured Destruction and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and hugely concerned for our future. Now in the 2020s we once again face global catastrophe - a once-in-a-century global plague, a deteriorating and highly threatening planet-wide weather shift, and the rise of Neo-fascist nationalism culminating in a major invasion of a democracy; a Hot War against our values.
When I look back at what I wrote in this blog in the earlier years of this century, I have to smile at how much less threatening the things I wrote about seem in the light of today's 'Freedom Convoys', floods and fires, and warlike dictators. As Bob Dylan understood we are often so earnest when we are younger, enraged like Greta Thunberg by the mess older people make of their world. As we age it is key to our mental health to find refreshment in what is still right about our societies - to take a 'younger' perspective' on the news of the day. 

There is a great deal to celebrate. The extraordinary (by historical standards) concern among the common folk of this world about the plight of innocent Ukrainian civilians who are being bombed out of house and home by an execrable dictator who seems to belong to another time in history. The dawning recognition that this era's dramatic global economic and population growth is harming the planet. The global sharing of understanding and strategies to deal with the COVID menace. And the existence of a worldwide digital internet that despite all its extensive capacity for misinformation allows us to learn about these things. 
Perhaps it's only because so many of us live so much longer on average than at any time in the past that we can in late life afford to be more phlegmatic about what seems so wrong about our interconnected humanity. In gratitude for still being around with banked experiences way beyond the expectations of our forbears we can elect to take a 'younger' more expectant view of our current troubles. I try to, hard as it can be what with the overwhelming deluge of digital disaster awareness that assaults us each and every day.




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