I think this was first published Tueday, August 19, 1997 in the Clinton Daily Journal, but that may have been the second printing. I’m not sure. The editor titled it.
THE WISDOM OF AN EASIER TIME. . . . .
What a treat. I bought a new c.d. today.
Actually I have the album, but I haven’t played albums for so long, I’m not sure my equipment works. I bought Carole King’s Tapestry. It’s playing as I type this. (I sort of feel like a traitor since I always have Eric on when I write.)
One million years ago, when I was in high school, I sometimes went home for lunch so that I could lie on the floor in front of the speakers (which were about as big as I was) and listen to Carole King. Actually it was more like absorbing Carole King. That woman wrote so many songs about me that it was almost embarrassing. I was sure that any moment she was going to come through the door and adopt me or at least take me on the road with her. (I though it would be a great way to meet James Taylor!) I can’t explain how much I loved her music. And let’s face it, she is one of the best musical poets the world has ever known.
But I hadn’t listened to Carole King for a long time. A very, very long time. I was in a music store looking for more Eric Clapton when I saw Tapestry.
Someone had put it back in the wrong place or maybe it was kismet. So I brought it home and put it in and by golly, I sang along with every single song! I didn’t know I still knew those songs. They are part of me, I guess.
But something even stranger than remembering the words to classic songs happened. Those songs that Carole King sang about me when I was sixteen are still about me. They made me happy and sad. They made me remember wonderful times and they made me homesick, too. I mean, sometimes I wonder if I’m ever gonna make it home again, it’s so far and out of sight.
I’m not sure why the song, Tapestry made sense to me when I was sixteen. How many bits of blue and gold did I actually have then? I’m sure I hadn’t yet glimpsed the drifter passing by at that age though I can describe him in detail now.
And I’m absolutely sure that I really didn’t know anyone who made me feel like a natural woman when I was sixteen. Oh, sure, I felt the sky tumbling down and my heart tremble a few times, but I can’t really say I’d ever felt like a natural woman.
But I knew some people who truly did have a friend, myself included. I had really good friends then.
We’d drive around the lake and sing along with the radio. When we heard Tonight with words unspoken you say that I’m the only one. . . will you still love me tomorrow? We’d yell back, “No!” We knew better than to trust our boyfriends farther than we could throw them. They’ll hurt you and desert you. . . .etc ..” We were wise. Life was simple then. We knew the rules.
What happened to my friends from that world? We were so close. Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? It would be so fine to see their faces at my door.
Nick would break up with What’s-his-name and we’d shake our heads knowingly singing, Something inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it.
We actually were high on life.
We really did get up every morning with smiles on our faces and we really did show the world all the love in our hearts. Somewhere we always had shelter from hunger and cold. We knew the shelter. We didn’t know the cold. It was a garden of wisdom in some long ago dream.
Could it be that I don’t remember it all clearly? If that’s true please don’t tell me. It’s taken me more than a couple of years to perfect these memories and I don’t want anybody messing with them. Let me just absorb the music. It makes me feel so good inside. You know, Carole, you make me feel so alive.
This was the best $13 I’ve spent in a long, long time. I guess my equipment is working after all.