Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Letter to Don McLean

The music never died… You just stopped listening. Rage against the Machine, the voice of an entire generation spoke. All you have to do is listen a bit harder. You know that old guy on the beach in Koh Panang? You know the bald one right in the heart of the crowd. He is pumping his arms into the air as a sweaty DJ distorts sounds, blending them with feedback, and giving the beats a digital heartbeat. The old man we all thought was crazy. Well he heard the music and he never stopped listening.

We play new Games, we have new Dreams, still striving to hold the torch. Poetic Justice has served, soldiers have fallen, and warriors have been slain, fighting amongst ourselves for a voice to be heard. The road of excess has brought us to the palace of wisdom at last. It turns out the gates in heaven CAN be bought. Tupac and Biggie RIP.

Bob had faith in God above. We heard him wailing from the bowels of Trench Town. His words rooted so deep in the planet. But still they creep and crawl through the soil and slowly drift through the cracks of the subway tunnel walls taking root under the city. His voice carries a message, the blind guy playing the saxophone right by the movie poster for ‘I Am Legend’. He still hears the music. He passes the torch throwing something in to appease the Lords. It flows out on to the street every day, growing stronger as souls attach to it, carrying each other. Giving them life again and teaching them to love. They swayed like bulrush in a breeze as they danced in their living rooms. I watched them through their windows savor the precious few moments they spend together.

As the jester dances through Winehouses, we don’t see the monkey in the clown suit and before you know he is o our back. All we see is the promise of liberty on the distant shores where we heard music once before. The torch passes before our eyes, but we only graze against its warmth. Briefly, but long enough to know that we want it. Through the eye of a needle what we glimpsed as liberty has left us Libertines on a violent shore. Can you hear them now? They speak in a language of broken souls dashed on sharp grey rocks that called out to us from parlors, brothels, and gambling dens.

I think I might have said too much by now, or have I not said enough? We have chosen our confessions and more souls were lost. Brains splattered on the carpet, the ink from his pen bled, a shotgun lay next to his lifeless hand, proving once and for all that the sword it mightier than the pen. We plugged in for the irony. MTV, Channel V, and VH1 came to life in our homes, flicking their soft glow through windows in the boxes. This seemingly unnatural ultra violet glow breathes and replenishes life.

Shackles of time have no hold over music as it floats through the ages. Timeless but certainly not lifeless. It continues to grow and if you listen really carefully you can still hear it behind the sound of the Clocks. It says the war is not ever, there never was a war, the war is just beginning. There are more voices now. And there are more ears that listen. Music still lives and breathes in the deepest and darkest jungles on this planet and it is pulsing through millions of fiber optic cables thousands of miles beneath the ocean’s surface right now.

Like a code, music has evolved. The city speaks when the cold steel wheel of a train scrapes sharply against its railings sending out a screech that echoes along its wide streets and between tall buildings. It dives down the dark alleys and up moss covered drain pipes into our homes. The hissing busses, sirens, horns, and spinning blades of the helicopters are telling us to keep moving. With every bucket load of dirt the bull dozer hauls and every block of concrete the crane hoists, the city breathes. It inhales and releases a song about trees and love, and hope. If you listen to a building crumble you can hear the sound of hope and regeneration. The torch passes on. Though suffering and inhumanity, through triumph and glory, beats and ballads welcome wretched to souls into oblivion and herald anointed Princes through gilded passageways. Forever the observer, the silent partner, music still leads the way. You just got tired of following it.

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