Saturday, March 14, 2009

Perhaps Love

When I first started performing in the early 1960's, the songs that I wanted to play were those of my era. I was not a Beatles fan by any stretch of the imagination. I own all of their music today, but not because I enjoyed them then, but because I have since learned something of musicality from them. I learned Buddy Holly songs. It took me six months before I could play any one of his pieces, but once I did I discovered I could play them all. I remember my friend Bud Peterson saying to me one night after I had played at a Church social, "Well, It was nice that you could play the same song three times tonight." I decided that I needed to expand my repertoire just a little. I settled on folk music, in particular the early music of Bob Dylan. I learned to play guitar in just about the same location in the country that he did, and his music had just a little bit of northern Minnesota stuffed into it, a stuffing that I seemed to enjoy a lot. I went away to Mexico for a couple of years and while I was gone, little Bobby Zimmerman reinvented himself. I found that I was not really in a frame of mind to play and sing his new material.

I was a Peter, Paul, and Mary fan, an Ian and Sylvia fan, a Bud and Travis fan, a Pete Seeger fan, a Joan Baez fan, having no idea as to where they were politically, or even that they were politically active. I just liked the music and the meaningful lyrics that went with them. I suppose that one of my favorite pieces at the time was the "Ballad of Springhill, Nova Scotia" by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacCall. I sang it often as a young folk singer, but there came a time when I just simply did not include it in my sets. I was reminded of it again, however, a year or so ago when the Crandall Canyon mine disaster took the lives of six men initially and then a second collapse killed three of the rescuers. The bodies of the six Utah men were never found. The final lines of MacCall's period piece had application.

Eight days passed and some were rescued,
Leaving the dead to lie alone,
Through all their lives they dug a grave,
Two miles of earth for a marking stone

After returning to Utah, I found myself playing the songs of Gordon Lightfoot, simply because they were beautiful. Others of his pieces I learned because he touched a part of my past. The ore boat "Edmund Fitzgerald" wintered in Duluth, Minnesota, while I lived there and I saw that great ship many times I went over the High Bridge to Superior, Wisconsin. Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is fourteen verses long with a wonderful chord sequence for the guitar. I performed it many times to receptive audiences, especially in the Midwest. I remember being invited by one of my children's elementary school teachers to come perform it for her class. In the middle of my rendition, the woman broke down in tears; one of her relatives had gone down with the ship.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

At some point I made a connection with Henry John Deutschendorf and began playing his music, and the music that he borrowed from other songwriters. I guess that it was about that time that I figured that I never needed to become a recording star because everything that I wanted to do and thought that I could do, had been done by this fellow. Of all his songs that I have learned, this one that follows is by far and away my favorite. It was originally released as a duet with Placido Domingo.

Perhaps Love

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don`t know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don`t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it`s cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

John Denver

I was watching television tonight, after Trillium and I finished another Inspector Morse episode, and one of the PBS stations was presenting a program on Denver's music. In the particular segment I watched, John Denver explained how the song came to be written. He and his wife, Anne Martell from St. Peter, Minnesota, were having troubles in their marriage, a separation had taken place and they were staring down the long, lonely highway of divorce. The song was a tribute to her; in spite of all of the misunderstandings and distresses that they had experienced, she was his real love. That, I think, was the spirit of all of John Denver's music. He had a way of looking at the very worst of situations and finding the very best that could be said. There was talk of a possible reconciliation of their marriage shortly before his accidental death off the coast of California on 12 October 1997.

At the heart of every marriage there are sentiments much like those John Denver had for Anne Martell. We sometimes forget those wonderful sentiments, much like Denver did when he and his wife separated. The trick is to remember, to keep before our minds and hearts, the reasons and the feelings that we had in the beginning. Always.... always... always....


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful! Thanks, Dad!

Jen said...

You came to my music class and played the Edmund Fitzgerald song (among a few others) . . . as I recall the kids were really impressed - - for a day. Then it was back to the same old same old. . . :)