How Glad Was I When The Kinks, The Byrds And Willie Nelson Visited Me Last Month? Very!

As everyone knows, billions of words are written each day about coronavirus, the f*cking demon that has done an excellent job of turning our world to shit. Among those words are repeated recommendations to be in touch with friends and relatives more often than usual. Most of those contacts, by necessity of course, must be via phone and internet rather than in person. We can thank the demon for that.

Good advice, right? Damn straight. After all, we have an innate need for human contact. And if ever there was a time for maintaining, strengthening and even expanding ties, this is it. Expanding? Sure. Now’s your golden opportunity, for instance, to pick up the phone and call that first cousin that you haven’t spoken to in eons because you’ve never particularly gotten along with him and because he absolutely pissed you off big-time by not inviting you to his son’s wedding 25 years ago.

“Guess who this is?” you should say before he has a chance to get a word out of his mouth. “It’s your favorite cuz, that’s who. The pandemic situation has convinced me that I should reach out to you, you loser. You better believe that I haven’t forgotten how you snubbed me all those years ago. Adios, baby. Nice talking to you!”

Okay, that attempt at communication possibly could have been handled more agreeably. But don’t sweat it! There are far more important things to worry about these days.

To continue: So far during the pandemic I’ve done nicely in the keeping-in-touch part of life, though expanding my ties has yet to become a part of the picture. I speak regularly with a good number of my friends and relatives, more regularly than I did in the pre-coronavirus era, and have enjoyed all of those conversations. But what I enjoyed even more were the occasions when old friends of the sonic variety unexpectedly visited me. For it was in late April, over a two-day period, that I heard on the radio three songs that I truly love but had forgotten all about.

Each recording brought a couple of tears to my eyes and made my grizzled heart go all soft and mushy. I sang along with them. I vowed never to let them disappear again, a pledge I plan to keep. No doubt, I’m a happier, more contented individual now that, after long absences, Sweet Lady Genevieve (by The Kinks), Have You Seen Her Face (by The Byrds), and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (by Willie Nelson) have reentered my life. And that, by the way, is the order in which I heard them last month.

The songs came out on albums in 1973, 1967 and 1975, respectively. The album titles, again respectively, are Preservation Act I, Younger Than Yesterday, and Red Headed Stranger. I own copies of those albums, for crying out loud. Don’t ask why I hadn’t given any of the platters a spin in a zillion years. Mea culpa.

Each song possesses a personality distinct from the other two, but they have something in common with 90% of all songs ever written. That is, in one way or another they address the prime human emotion. Love. Sweet Lady Genevieve, composed and sung by The Kinks leader, Ray Davies, is a plea for forgiveness and a promise to become faithful and true. Have You Seen Her Face presents a not overly clear-thinking guy who suspects he’d be wise to pursue a certain beguiling lady whom, perhaps, he is destined to bond with. As for Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, here we have the tale of someone who fully realizes that the love affair of his life has reached its end, and that he never will get over the breakup.

Yeah, to me each of the recordings is something special. Sweet Lady Genevieve’s melody, with its leaps and twists, is irresistible. And the lyrics? Well, the eloquence of the opening line — Once under a scarlet sky, I told you never-ending lies — makes it clear that you’re about to hear a cleverly-spun story. There are many, including me, who consider Ray Davies to be a songwriting giant.

Chris Hillman, who played electric bass in The Byrds, wrote both the music and lyrics for Have You Seen Her Face. Yes, the lyrics are messy, but little matter, considering how freely, almost giddily, the melody unfolds, and how the trippy guitar solos will lift you right out of your body.

And what about Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain? For one thing, Willie Nelson, an ace songwriter, didn’t compose the work. It was written in 1945 by the late Fred Rose, a musician, songwriter and music industry executive. The lyrics are direct and profound, the music likewise. Willie Nelson recognized all of this. His vocals, accompanied by spare instrumentation, will break your heart.

Little more do I need to add, except to mention that The Kinks and The Byrds, iconic rock bands, no longer are functioning units. Haven’t been for years. Many of their once-members, though, remain active musicians. As does Willie Nelson, a mere lad of 87.

And so, without further ado, here are the songs that resonated with me so well recently. Oh, just one more thing: I’d be happy to hear your comments about this article.

123 thoughts on “How Glad Was I When The Kinks, The Byrds And Willie Nelson Visited Me Last Month? Very!

  1. Librarylady May 30, 2020 / 9:14 am

    I liked your thoughts about reconnecting during the shutdown. My husband is really good at this and took the time to call people from his past and catch up. They were always surprised and pleased to hear from him. Not being the social butterfly that he is, my solution to social distancing was to call my Mother – who lives alone and refuses to move in with her kids – everyday and enjoy her sweet spirit. Also enjoyed your comments about music bringing back memories. Gotta love Willie – my fav – You were Always On My Mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 30, 2020 / 12:37 pm

      It would be interesting to know what percentage of people are doing the reconnecting thing. My guess is somewhere around 25%.

      Like

  2. jeanleesworld June 4, 2020 / 7:30 am

    Oh, music, it is my sanctuary these days. 🙂 I’ve always been a fan of The Kinks. Lately I’ve been listening to Steve Martin–not the comedy stuff, but his folk music with Edie Brickell. Very sweet and mellow, a good balm for the current moment. xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 4, 2020 / 12:20 pm

      Hi. I remember when their album came out, and I saw them perform on TV. It almost seems like an unlikely pairing. I wonder how their musical partnership came about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Crystal Byers June 5, 2020 / 2:07 pm

    Some amazing storytelling in the songs of days gone by. Isn’t it great the way the music lives on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2020 / 5:17 pm

      Hey there, Crystal. I know what you mean. There’s a wealth of music out there, from all eras. We’re fortunate to have so much of it available to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fictionophile July 1, 2020 / 10:07 pm

    Great post Neil. You are correct. Music can help us all get through the bad times – it has for millennia. Books help too. That being said, what I wouldn’t give for the world to return to how it was only a year ago…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Single Malt Monkey August 2, 2020 / 2:32 am

    Love the post and the tracks. Sometimes a long forgotten tune really chokes you up, doesn’t it. Especially when you start ripping along with it – that’s the trigger. Damn! Maybe these strange days are a time for reflection. I’ve been pulling out old faves too and just wallowing in nostalgia. Maybe reflection is what we needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 2, 2020 / 10:54 am

      Hey there. Right, these days I think we take more comfort than usual in things that have been good parts of our lives. And now I’m reminded again of Sweet Lady Genevieve. That song was stuck in my head for days and days after I wrote this story. It’s going to get stuck in my head again!

      Liked by 1 person

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