The Ways We Experience Music

This blog
and the Dozen or So That Come Below It
 were Added Prior to the wb4all “Meta-Church” Part of the Website
Being Added Here in April 2013

Starting here and proceeding down, it’s all pre-May2011 material and is not related to my work to articulate and promote the new well-being for all “meta-church.”  But leaving this earlier material here does give you a sense of who I was and still am other than the spiritualization reporting, spiritual plane events reporting, and church-starting efforts God asked me to do.  Enjoy!

 Noticing Familiar Lyrics Anew: The song, “Woodstock”

❤ Lights low, white wine, & ❤ ♫ http://bit.ly/JoniMitchell ♫ ❤ solo or with a pal ❤ over the years

I have always loved music.  Different kinds of music.  Different kinds of involvement.  At different times of life.  Revisiting familiar music has been an unending source of fascination for me.  Like re-reading passages from the past and seeing them through new eyes and understanding them in new ways.

There are lots of songs I have known “by heart.”  Which has meant different things for different songs.

For a few songs, we might know the music, lyrics, performer, and back stories.

Some of my friends have really focused on music.  They seem to know all the songs, background vocals, guitar parts, brass parts, lyrics, performers, and back stories “by heart.”

For the rest of us, music’s a big part of our lives, but not so much a focus of study.  Sometimes we know a few things “about” songs — who performed and wrote them, when, and maybe why.  More often, we just “know” we “know” that song … it’s great! … we love it! … yeah, and who was the band who did it?  : )

Then there’s the matter of the lyrics.  Sometimes a familiar loved song arrives to the part where we know the next six words “by heart” and sing along.  : )  “Haa-ang on, Sloopy.  Sloopy, hang on.”  “I’m a soul man. buh dih doo dih doo buh dih doo dih doo [we sing the brass part too].  “I’m goin’ to Surf City cause it’s two to one … TWO girls for evvvvv-reee boyyyyyyyyy”  And so forth.  Great stuff.

❤ Lights low, white wine, & ♫ http://bit.ly/JoniMitchell ♫ ❤ solo or with a pal ❤ over the years

What brought that to my mind today is seeing a program on VH1 Classic called something like, “Woodstock: Then and Now.”  Toward the end, they told the story about how Joni Mitchell had written the song, “Woodstock,” although she missed attending the mid-August 1969 event due to another event in New York.  She watched news stories about the event on TV.  She was love interest with Graham Nash at the time.  Nash was at Woodstock playing some of the signature songs with Crosby, Stills, and Nash (not yet, “and Young”).  Nash told her all about it.  She wrote the song and, a month after Woodstock, played it at the mid-September 1969 Big Sur music festival in California.  This was before it was released on Joni’s record albums. It was also before Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young covered it on their hugely successful 1970 album, Deja Vu (by then, Neil Young was part of the fabled group of superstars).

Years ago, I heard and knew the upbeat energetic CSNY version first.  When I later heard the slower, more soulful, more spiritual, more deliberate Joni Mitchell version, I thought Joni was covering a CSNY song.  Exactly backwards. Which is sort of funny since Joni’s one of the most creative and smart poetesses and musicians ever. Guessing Joni, who’s also capable of upbeat smart music, was moved in the days just following the Woodstock event and was in a mood to convey something profound. Later, again guessing from the sounds alone, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young decided the lyrics were perfect as the Woodstock anthem, but that they wanted to have a version that reflected the fun, optimistic, and lively side of the event. I wasn’t there. I was in high school. But I’m guessing, for those who attended, it was both things — full of life, energy, and optimism on the one hand, and profoundly moving and life-changing on the other.  (note 1)

Deja Vu: Highly successful 1970 CSNY album that included a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

I noticed today that I have both the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and the Joni Mitchell versions of the song — with their very different rhythms, pacing, moods, and tones — “in my head.”  Over the years, whenever one of them has been played, I have been, without thinking about it, singing and humming along to both versions — aware of the words, but not really focusing on, knowing, and experiencing the meanings of the words.  So I’ve been aware of the words, but have never really focused on them beyond a phrase at a time.  Never concentrating on the words as a whole as the songs played.  Never read them as a poem before today.

When the two versions were being sampled on the VH1 show today, a few familiar phrases caught my attention in a new way.  It made me wonder how they fit together as a whole, or if they did.  Song lyrics don’t always make sense.  Sometimes, with other songs, I’ve worked at finding the lyrics (it’s a lot easier today with the internet) to see what’s “really” being said.  Sometimes there’s coherent meaning there.  Sometimes not.  Much of the value of the music is still there — the energy of it, the mood of it, the experience it creates in full focus or in background — whether the lyrics hang together perfectly or not.  After all, we love much instrumental music, music without lyrics too, right?

Today, more of the phrases were catching my attention than in my usual “listening”/humming along (Sometimes we “listen” as in pay careful attention to all the understandable lyrics in the song.  Sometimes we “listen” with music on “in the background”).  Today, I’m hearing, “child of god”, “we are stardust, we are golden”, “get my soul free”, “devil’s bargain”, and “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”.  This has me noticing the obvious point, but hadn’t thought about it before, that the “garden” they’re talking about is “the garden of Eden”, “Paradise”, which is saying get back to a natural simplicity.  All of which is, of course, referring back to the Bible story.

So, after all these years of “knowing” the song, loving it’s sound, loving its mood, loving the experience it creates when playing in background — both as part of my Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young experience and my Joni Mitchell experience — it became the “Woodstock” song’s turn for one of my little lyrics discovery detours.

Since it’s a Joni Mitchell song, covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, it’s no surprise that the lyrics are quite good.

Have a look.

Woodstock lyrics, by Joni Mitchell, 1969

I came upon a child of god
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
Im going on down to yasgurs farm
Im going to join in a rock n roll band
Im going to camp out on the land
Im going to try an get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe its the time of man
I dont know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devils bargain
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

———————————————

You can find both the Joni Mitchell and CSNY versions of “Woodstock”, along with other great Joni Mitchell songs, here:

♫ http://bit.ly/JoniMitchell

Joni Anderson, Canadian singer and songwriter, before she became the famous Joni Mitchell of L.A.

Notes:1.  I gather from the various accounts I’ve seen that Woodstock was also more than a little bit muddy and messy.  It was 1/2 million people all-of-a-sudden camping out on a farm for three days and nights in a small rural and artsy upstate New York town west of the Hudson River.  Plus rain.  But the world has mostly come away with a “glass half full” view and interpretation of those 3 or 4 remarkable days and nights of peace, love, and music in middle of August of 1969.

Poster for the Woodstock Festival

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