[what it feels like]

Topic: Culture
I was listening to a couple of my old Paul Simon records today — having cleaned our apartment for the barbecue we had yesterday, we can now get to both the records and the record player — and I was struck by a couple of songs that seemed to sum up the political mood today, even though they’re over 20 years old. There’s something both tragic and reassuring in realizing that we’ve been here before: tragic because we should have known better than to return, but reassuring because the world went on and there have been good times, too.

Anyway, I just wanted to quote the songs in full and let you make what you want of them.

Peace Like a River (1971)

Peace like a river ran through the city
Long past the midnight curfew
We sat starry-eyed
We were satisfied
And I remember
Misinformation followed us like a plague
Nobody knew from time to time
If the plans were changed
If the plans were changed.

You can beat us with wires
You can beat us with chains
You can run out your rules
But you know you can’t outrun the history train
I’ve seen a glorious day.

Four in the morning
I woke up from out of my dreams
Nowhere to go but back to sleep
But I’m reconciled
Oh, oh, oh, I’m going to be up for a while


American Tune (1973)

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing and American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrows going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

I’m trying to get some rest