Tuesday Tunes 11: Time

Yesterday marked the first day of the gradual release from lockdown here in the UK, with the reopening of certain types of stores, and more to come in a fortnight. There were also some relaxations in the rules on meeting friends and family outdoors – but not in your home, yet. These are obviously welcome signs of a possible return to ‘normal’ – if you missed it, I wrote about ‘normal’ last Friday, here. But they are also the hallmarks of a government driven by the need to rebuild the economy. For months now, our Prime Moron and his lackeys have been chuntering on about being ‘guided by the advice of the scientists’ – no doubt if the Prime Manipulator had got them all to use a handy three word slogan like ‘led by science’ he wouldn’t have needed that break in Durham. He likes his three word slogans, does Dom, but sadly for us ‘sorry, I resign’ hasn’t yet reached his vocabulary. I may be accused of being cynical about this, but I can’t help but wonder if this is just their way of moving towards their plan for herd immunity, that they used as their excuse for doing nothing for two months when the virus first hit us. It seems a little bit too coincidental that Johnson barred his scientific advisors from commenting on the Cummings issue, and that most of them have been nowhere near the daily briefings since then, either at his wish or theirs. They have, however, subsequently made their views clear that it is too early to end lockdown just yet, and there are warnings of a second coronavirus wave if we try to move too quickly. Time will tell, I guess, and that leads me neatly(ish) into this week’s theme: time.

As a concept, time fascinates me. You can’t see it, or touch it, but it underpins everything we do. I’ve written a few times about it, several years ago. Try this one, if you’re interested, which is the closest I’ve ever got to being philosophical. In today’s context my interest is in some things which have been said often in the past few months: how do we spend all this additional time we have on our hands, or how do we measure the passing of time in lockdown, when the days seem to merge into each other? In terms of philosophy, I am hard-pressed to come up with a better way of thinking about it than this week’s first tune:

Sandy Denny wrote that when she was 20. It is, I think, a remarkably mature song from someone who would only live to the age of 31. It has been covered many times – notably by Kate Rusby and Judy Collins – but, for me, none of the covers even comes close to touching the poetic beauty of the original. But then none of the others has Sandy’s voice, do they? I featured this song in a post some years ago, which I reworked six months ago, and in which I commented

‘The constancy of nature and its regenerating seasons is used as a metaphor for human life and love. “I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving, I do not count the time” is a perfect statement of the best way to live life: for the now. We cannot change our past and we cannot predict our future.’

Couldn’t have put it better if I’d tried! Whilst looking back can be both fun and instructive, we are living now and can only move forwards.

This week’s second tune is also from the 60s, which gave me the excuse for the image at the top of the page:

The song was originally released as a track on the Zombies’ Odyssey And Oracle album, but later became a hit single in the US and elsewhere, though never here in the UK. I think that may have been something to do with CBS having virtually given it away on the first of their sampler albums, The Rock Machine Turns You On, which I bought, along with the two follow up albums – incredible value and a good way to encourage full price album sales! I think this video for the song is amazing, and really captures the spirit of the age and the hedonism young people were enjoying. But there were also dark times, too – civil riots in the US and other countries in 1968, for example. We seem to be coming full circle, and I can only hope that a bellicose president can be dissuaded from using armed force to control the demonstrations. Some of us are old enough to remember the tragic events at Kent State University in 1970: ‘four dead in Ohio,’ as Neil Young put it.

This piece has taken on a more serious note than I intended at the outset, but I make no apology for that. We are living in serious and dangerous times but, as always, I know that I can rely on music for solace and to help me escape from reality (NOT a Bohemian Rhapsody reference!). I just hope that my pessimism about world events is proved wrong, fingers crossed.

As always, I wish you a good week, and trust that you will stay safe and well.

Time: A Reflection

I hadn’t planned on posting today, but then this image cropped up in my Timehop feed:

image

They say that memory loss is a sign of advancing years, and I had absolutely no idea why I’d saved these lyrics. A little digging gave me the answer: although I didn’t quote the lyrics I did include a video of the song in a post about the concept of time.

Prompted by this, I went onto YouTube – other video streaming sites are available – to find this again:

Even 50 years or so since I first heard that, I’m still bewitched by the sheer beauty of Sandy Denny’s voice, coupled with the prescience of lyrics she wrote at such a young age. There have been many cover versions since then, which in some ways have devalued the song, but I’d credit Kate Rusby and Judy Collins as valiant efforts – the original has never been bettered, though!

Replaying this has made me really think about the lyrics. The constancy of nature and its regenerating seasons is used as a metaphor for human life and love. “I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving, I do not count the time” is a perfect statement of the best way to live life: for the now. We cannot change our past and we cannot predict our future. But try doing what I did: I thought back to this time five years ago, when I wrote that earlier post, and pondered how my life has changed since then.

Had it changed at all? Had it happened as I was expecting? Should I, could I, have done anything differently? Perhaps but, as I just said, we can’t change our past. However, we can learn from it: indeed it is important that we do. Like all of us I’m far from infallible and have made mistakes. In the past few years my health has fluctuated, but I’m in good hands (the NHS is great!) to get support for it. I’ve committed myself to taking up some new things in my life, though not as much as I would have liked: I blame my health for that! Some friendships have been lost, but new ones have been gained. For me, the important thing is to be true to yourself, and I’d like to think that I always do that. Honesty – with yourself as much as with others – is important, whatever others may think of you for it.

Time is a reference for all of this. It enables us to pinpoint moments, and to use them as markers. But go back to the song’s title: who does ever know where the time goes, yet we use that phrase so often. If that tells you nothing else, it should be saying to you that you shouldn’t put off doing things you are thinking about. There may come a time when it is too late for them, and using time as a reference point for regret is something we should never do to ourselves.

The words in this post thus far are, in the main, an edited version of a piece I originally wrote back in 2015, which itself was a return to a series of posts I had written in 2014 – if you follow the ‘earlier post’ link above you’ll find the series, as they all link back to each other. Those were the two years in which I took part in #NaBloPoMo, which is when you commit to posting every day in November. Doing that twice was more than enough for me and, perhaps not surprisingly, viewing figures were quite small. But the concept of time and how we relate to it still fascinates me, as you will see from those posts from my blogging vaults. Leave alone knowing where the time goes, who, indeed, does know what it really is?

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

I’d planned to do something different today, but then this cropped up in my Timehop feed:

image

They say that memory loss is a sign of advancing years, and I had absolutely no idea why I’d saved these lyrics. And I’m only 62! A little digging gave me the answer: although I didn’t quote the lyrics I did include a video of the song in a post about the concept of time.

Prompted by this, I went onto YouTube – other video streaming sites are available 🙂 – and found this:

Even 40 years or so since I first heard that, I’m still bewitched by the sheer beauty of Sandy Denny’s voice, coupled with the prescience of lyrics she wrote at such a young age. There have been many cover versions since then, which in some ways have devalued the song, but I’d credit Kate Rusby and Judy Collins as valiant efforts – the original has never been bettered, though!

Replaying this has made me really think about the lyrics. The constancy of nature and its regenerating seasons is used as a metaphor for human life and love. “I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving, I do not count the time” is a perfect statement of the best way to live life: for the now. We cannot change our past and we cannot predict our future. But try doing what I did: I thought back to this time last year, when I wrote my earlier post, and pondered how my life has changed since then.

Had it changed at all? Had it happened as I was expecting? Should I, could I, have done anything differently? Perhaps but, as I just said, we can’t change our past. However, we can learn from it: indeed it is important that we do. Like all of us I’m far from infallible and have made mistakes. In my past year my health has fluctuated, but I’ve taken steps to do something about it. I’ve committed myself to taking up some new things in my life. And some friendships have been lost, but new ones have been gained. For me, the important thing is to be true to yourself, and I’d like to think that I always do that. Honesty – with yourself as much as with others – is important, whatever others may think of you for it.

Time is a reference for all of this. It enables us to pinpoint moments, and to use them as markers. But go back to the title: who does ever know where the time goes, yet we use that phrase so often. If that tells you nothing else, it should be saying to you that you shouldn’t put off doing things you are thinking about. There may come a time when it is too late for them, and using time as a reference point for regret is something we should never do to ourselves.