Return of the Grievous Angel:Looking ahead
The tradition at this time of the year is to make some kind of predictions. My thesis is that we already know enough about our own history to not only make predictions but to set directions and see them come true. The thing is that most of the time we are not entirely sure what it is that we know (at any one point- till later.)
This is particularly true in the arts. For example in ’74 the late Gram Parsons released an album called Grievous Angel which was well regarded but not entirely the version he wanted. Note: he died after the recording sessions and and album was released 4 months after his death.
There is no doubt that Gram Parsons was high functioning but by then his life had become impaired by drugs and drink as he battled his personal devil and the “deep blue sea.”
I like the idea that despite his “impairment” Gram was somehow singing into the future in a very special way. Little did he know that that 25 years later that his singing partner (Harris) would re-record a tribute version of that album with some of the most gifted artists of then and now.
In 1999 – Emmy Lou Harris released The Return of The Grievous Angel which in my view surpasses the original in that those songs got a new reading by the likes of Beck, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Whiskeytown (Ryan Adams), Wilco, Cowboy Junkies and some others.
I can’t really explain what it is that we knew then and perhaps know more of now except that a new reading of the same vision can somehow become richer and more visible – but only if we take the time to listen and reflect / make changes.
The musical back story is a metaphor that works for me – a different metaphor may work better for you.
I’m the kind of person who looks for layers of meaning and a different version of some old thing may just be what I need. The other thing is that I may not have checked out Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Wilco or the Cowboy Junkies except from that I heard them all on this one album.
What it comes down to is we all know a great deal more about own own futures than we are conscious of.
In our lives we often come across serendipitous moments when we can know the truth. These indicators come in the comments and silences of our friends, colleagues and family.
We all have impairments of some kind and may be barely conscious of their influence, however chances are that we live with the results and that we can do better.
My wish for 2008 is that we live with our eyes and our hearts wide open to the possibilities of and promise of a New Year. That we can read the signs and make the most of those outcomes and opportunities for ourselves and our loved ones.
Note August 2015: It turns out that 2008 was a watershed year for many as the banking industry in the U.S had a meltdown and took the rest of the planet for a ride too.
Partly what I was trying to say then – is that great songs are often prescient and they can reveal a barely conscious future despite us not seeing that at the time. Reflection is still an attribute I value highly and some favourite music is a great way to explore “things we may know” but are not yet fully conscious of.