Lucky Man

luck
Illustration by Michele Marconi

 

Are you what is called a lucky man? Well, you are sad every day. Each day has its great grief or its little care. Yesterday you were trembling for the health of one who is dear to you, today you fear for your own; tomorrow it will be an anxiety about money, the next day the slanders of a calumniator, the day after the misfortune of a friend; then the weather, then something broken or lost, then a pleasure for which you are reproached by your conscience or your vertebral column; another time, the course of public affairs. Not to mention heartaches. And so on. One cloud is dissipated, another gathers. Hardly one day in a hundred of unbroken joy and sunshine. And you are of that small number who are lucky! As for other men, stagnant night is upon them.  

Victor Hugo

He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door

What a lucky man he was

White lace and feathers
They made up his bed
A gold covered mattress
On which he was laid

What a lucky man he was

He went to fight wars
For his country and his king
Of his honor and his glory
The people would sing

What a lucky man he was

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

What a lucky man he was

Citysketch: A saxophone in the park

I bought a sketchbook on my way to work yesterday and needed to break it in with a quick sketch. At lunch I went to Central Park and came across this man playing saxophone. It finally feels like winter has retreated and left behind hopes for better days ahead. The melody is All The Way, written by Jimmy Van Heusen and made famous by Frank Sinatra’s 1957 recording.

Fun fact: In 1953, Sinatra slit his wrist in a suicide attempt, distraught over his divorce from Ava Gardner, and it was Van Heusen who rushed him to the hospital.

The lyrics to All The Way were written by Sammy Cahn:

When somebody loves you
It’s no good unless he loves you all the way
Happy to be near you
When you need someone to cheer you all the way
Taller than the tallest tree is
That’s how it’s got to feel
Deeper than the deep blue see is
That’s how deep it goes, if it’s real
When somebody needs you
It’s no good unless he needs you all the way
Through the good or lean years
And for all the in-between years come what may
Who knows where the road will lead us?
Only a fool would say
But if you’ll let me love you
It’s for sure I’m gonna love you all the way

Slit Skirts

townshend

Aging gracefully is one of the great challenges in the life of a rock’n’roller. Many artists have pissed away their maturity chasing the tail of their youth. Just as many have gone to an early grave without having to confront the challenge. Then there are the few who tackle it head-on.

Pete Townshend was a great help to me when I was a teenager. He found words for thoughts I was too inarticulate to express. His band’s Quadrophenia was blaring in the background of my first kiss. And as he got older he found words to express the bittersweet nature of aging.

 Slit Skirts, from Townshend’s 1982 album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes takes on the subject with his usual musical bravado and some unusually literary lyrics.

Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts…

I was just thirty-four years old and I was still wandering in a haze
I was wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were
Lost in a maze
I don’t know why I thought I should have some kind of
Divine right to the blues
It’s sympathy not tears people need when they’re the
Front page sad news.
.
The incense burned away and the stench began to rise
And lovers now estranged avoided catching each others’ eyes
And girls who lost their children cursed the men who fit the coil
And men not fit for marriage took their refuge in the oil
No one respects the flame quite like the fool who’s badly burned
From all this you’d imagine that there must be something learned
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts.
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
Have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance
.
Let me tell you some more about myself,
you know I’m sitting at home just now.
The big events of the day are passed
and the late TV shows have come around.
I’m number one in the home team, but I still feel unfulfilled.
A silent voice in her broken heart complaining that I’m unskilled.
And I know that when she thinks of me, she thinks of me as him,
But, unlike me, she don’t work off her frustration in the gym.
Recriminations fester and the past can never change
A woman’s expectations run from both ends of the range
Once she walked with untamed lovers’ face between her legs
Now he’s cooled and stifled and it’s she who has to beg
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
And I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
We have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance

I Have To Say

This song, like John Lennon’s Woman, is addressed both to the specific woman I’ve built my life around, and to all individuals of her gender. This feels like a moment for me to be quiet and do some listening. I’ve already heard everything I Have To Say.

In another similarity with Beatle John, my compositions sometimes slip into the familiar ¾ time of the waltz. I never learned how to do the dance but its rhythm speaks to me.

I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes
I love you
I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes
how beautiful you are
Some things seem so obvious that I don’t have to say them
But I do have to say them
And you do have to hear them
Because they’re more important than anything I have to say
I have to say
.
I know I get under
Your skin and you wonder
What life would be like
Without Mr. Mike
Probably better
And probably worse
And probably someday the last will be first
Before we get to that day
I want to hear everything that you say
And I do have to hear you
You do need to speak
Because I’ve already heard everything I have to say
.
The first one I ever saw fade into black
was my Uncle Jack
He never came back
Now there’s so many slipped through the cracks
That I’m losing track
And the voices of these ghosts
Drown out the one that I need most
And I do need to hear you
You do need to speak
Because I’ve already heard everything I have to say

I Have To Say

I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes how much I love you
I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes how beautiful you are
Some things seem so obvious that I don’t have to say them
But I do have to say them
And you do have to hear them
Because they’re more important than anything I have to say
I know I get under
Your skin and you wonder
What life would be like
Without Mr. Mike
Probably better
And probably worse
And probably someday the last will be first
But before we get to that day
I want to hear everything that you say
And you do have to say it
And I do have to hear it
Because I’ve already heard everything I have to say

Alone

It was about five years ago that I became less involved with the mechanism of life when four of the most important people in mine became more distant, less intimate. It wasn’t all bad. My dearest dreams for two of them came true: he fell in love and became an independent man. She fell in love and became a mommy. But I miss the places all of them held in my life.
For the next couple of weeks I have to get used to the downside of being alone, to a life with nobody waving to me from the window, with no counterweight in conversation, with no aromas of vegetarian masterpieces wafting down the hall to greet me as I step off the elevator. And that litterbox isn’t going to clean itself.
But there are good things too. Nobody tells me I can’t. Nobody tells me I shan’t. No one to say “you’re doing it wrong.”

What am I gonna to do today?

Walk to the newsstand, checkout the war zone
Check the listings, see what’s good on
Oh, there’s one I’ve been wanting to see
Anyone here up for a movie? I am

Nobody tells me I can’t
Nobody tells me I shan’t
No one to say “You’re doing it wrong”
I’m at my best, I’m where I belong
Alone
Yeah, I like it

Now I’m down on the street
Hanging out with the poets and the Greeks and the deadbeats
I’m taking my time, sitting on park benches
All the glamour is right down here
This is where the trends begin
Life’s a canvas and I’m on it

Nobody tells me I can’t
Nobody tells me I shan’t
No one to say “You’re doing it wrong”
I’m at my best, I’m where I belong
Alone
I like it, yeah
I like being alone

And the other thing I like to do
Go to the graveyard and hang out with you
And sit back and have a smoke and practice my autograph
And re-read your epitaph and it says:
“Don’t you laugh as you walk by
For as you are so once was I
And as I am so you shall be
Prepare for death and follow mje”

Alone
I like it
Nobody tells me I can’t
Nobody tells me I shan’t
No one to say “You’re doing it wrong”
I’m at my best, I’m where I belong
Alone
Yeah, I like it
What are you going to do about it, huh?
Absolutely nothing
I’m going to do whatever I well please

Why The Irish Are The World’s Greatest Lovers


Ireland has been inhabited for the last twelve and a half millennia. There are more than six million people living on the emerald isle today, down from a peak of eight million in 1840, before the famine. By 1850, the Irish were a quarter of the population of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Buffalo. There are 40 million Irish people in the United States and they will all be marching up Fifth Avenue today, at least in spirit.
The Irish are known for being drunken and pugnacious but also for being poets, musicians, and dreamers. What is not as well known is that the Irish are the world’s greatest lovers. The French, Spanish, and Italian are renowned for being physical lovers. And we all know what happens when you go black. But the Irish are known for being spiritual lovers. They are good people to fall in love with, or to have fall in love with you. When an Irishman makes love to you he does it with his soul. The bodies involved are just pleasurable conduits to turn on and off while the souls dance the eternal ballet. In time bodies age, stiffen, and decay, but the love of an Irishman stays fresh.
Here’s a taste of some Irish love in the form of the traditional song “The Banks of the Lee” performed by Sarah McQuaid.
 

When two lovers meet down beside the green bower
When two lovers meet down beneath the green tree
When Mary, fond Mary, did say unto her lover
“You have stolen my poor heart from the Banks of the Lee”
For I loved her very dearly, so true and sincerely
There was no one in this wide world I love more than she
Every bush, every bower, every tree and every flower
Reminds me of my Mary, on the banks of the Lee.
“Don’t stay out late tonight on the moorlands, my Mary
Don’t stay out late tonight on the moorlands from me”
How little was our notion when we sailed upon the ocean
That we were forever parted from the Banks of the Lee
I will pluck my love some roses, some blooming Irish roses
I will pluck my love some roses, the finest that ever grew
And I will leave them on the grave of my own true lovely Mary
In the cold and silent churchyard where she sleeps ‘neath the dew