HEADED THAT-A-WAY

As the hours spent in my profession wane, I’ve noticed it is harder to keep track of what day it is. Especially during yet another lockdown. That must be the reason, COVID-19. It’s the reason for everything, the excuse for every avoidance, the aetiology of all ailments. I’m not sleeping well; certainly a lockdown symptom. Some of the dreams are odd, though.

Last night I was being asked to move my stuff, which was filling an office needed for other purposes. The request came from my boss, a young bearded man with a worried brow. He wasn’t angry, just needing me to move on. I was uncomfortable, telling him that I didn’t know where I was going next. When I awoke, I had a record running in my head. A record I knew very well, many years ago. An album I could sing along to in the late 1970s; probably now too. That’s the nature of memory. 

Two songs from this particular album were jostling each other for the speakers in my head. What struck me about the songs, at least initially, was the contrast in styles. “You’re moving out today” is a comic pop song, essentially a list of items the singer* insists her unwanted housemate take with him as he leaves.

Pack up your dirty looks

Your songs that have no hooks

Your stacks of Modern Screen

Your portrait of the Queen

 

Your mangy cat away

Your baby fat away

You’re headed that-a-way

You’re moving out today

His collections, his trophies, his clutter. His selfishness, his habits, his disengagement. Clean them out, clear the decks, cleanse the space. 

In that cavity another tune instantly appeared. “I’d rather leave while I’m in love”, a tear-drenched song about loss of love. But more than that, a strange, self-defeating habit of leaving before the love dies. How perverse, thought I, glancing away from a lifetime habit of avoidance as the front-line defence against any challenge.

Reality is tough. Often brutal. Is that why the singer desperately wants to keep her dreams “and just pretend”?

Too many times I’ve seen the rose die on the vine

Somebody’s heart gets broken, usually it’s mine

I don’t want to take the chance of being hurt again

And you and I can’t say goodbye

It’s said that one reason older people tend to have higher rates of depression is that they know that things do not always work out, that good does not always triumph, that love most certainly will not conquer all. Yet Carole Bayer Sager’s advice seems to be a recipe for loneliness. 

(Biographical diversion: Carole Bayer divorced Mr Sager in 1978—the year after this album came out—before taking up with film composer Marvin Hamlisch, then  marrying a certain Burt Freeman Bacharach a few years later. In 1999 she divorced the man who knew what the world needs now. It is not known whether she sang “I’ll never fall in love again”.)

If creativity fertilises growth (and vice versa), then perhaps it is the best defence against atrophy. A new focus is most definitely needed; the alternative is inexorable decline into mental and physical obsolescence. Sure, life is a virus that’ll get you in the end, but maybe the individual quest for a personally genome-sequenced vaccine is, in fact, the point.

* Carole Bayer Sager for me, though some may be more familiar with co-writer Bette Midler’s version.

  • Carole Bayer Sager “Carole Bayer Sager” was released on Elektra Records in 1977. The LP reached #4 on the Australian charts.
  • “You’re moving out today” was a #1 hit single in Australia. 
  • Bayer Sager wrote (or co-wrote) dozens of successful songs that have been recorded by artists ranging from Neil Diamond to Michael Jackson, from Diana Ross to Sheena Easton. 

24 comments

  1. Wow, what a post: so much to percolate through the brain and hopefully enrich it with emotional caffeine as the day unfolds.

    Covid-19 gifted me a swag of oldies struggling with social isolation and mental tremors, which I have, with them, raged against with meandering, reminiscent conversations, whilst encouraging small appetites.
    Sometimes I return home and Z gives me the space to absorb the polyrhythmic syncopations that sent me right in an hour.
    Thanks for the music; thanks for the struggle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …and thanks for reading and responding DD. Enjoy some Sunday sun.

      Like

  2. It’s a great day.
    Not necessarily the kind of day to be signing off Thanks for the struggle. I think I had some carryover thoughts about Marc and alienation! Nevermind. Fine post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Marx, K that is.
    Not Marc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wuz thinkin’ Marc Almond? Marc Hunter? Marco Polo?

      Like

      1. Take one blunt, inacurate finger, add a roaming silicon chip in the eye, combine with the vanity of not wearing glasses all the time and an Eno tribute to honouring the error….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolution assured. 😎

          Like

  4. Well it’s actually a tiny chip of calcium, so add a tendency to exaggerate for effect…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The ruddy thing has led me to see transparent outlines of RAF roundels floating in all kinds of spaces; perhaps the origin of my doomed interest in the air force.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Should we give coronavirus-induced odd dreams credit for fertilizing creativity? 🙂 I don’t think I ever knew that Sager was, herself, a performer, but have certainly known of her prolific songwriting career. (And that’s quite a list of co-writers on this album alone: Midler, Hamlisch, Peter Allen, Melissa Manchester…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those pharmaceuticals, JDB, you never can tell. 😵‍💫

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I found a very passable and amusing video clip of Your moving out today on YouTube.
    Thanks
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A wonderful, thought-provoking (is it okay to say navel-contemplating?) post, Bruce. Regrets should always be followed by remembering the satisfactions, which is what I’m choosing to take from this.

    Funny, I only ever knew Carole Bayer Sager as a songwriter and not a performer. Once again, you’re a teacher in addition to a raconteur. 😉 – Marty

    Like

  9. Enjoyed this Bruce, if that doesn’t make it sound like I’m enjoying you not sleeping and being listless. You’re at a very different stage of this than we are. Normality is rapidly approaching, I’m back in the office again at the end of this month for the first time since last March and have just spent 2 lovely weeks on holiday in Scotland, where the only tell-tale signs were an absence of Europeans and wearing masks in communal places.

    I say normality, but we all know the incompetent venial bastards in charge of our fair land are gleefully ignoring any and all warning signs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, holidays. I remember those…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ll get there Bruce.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello, is that Vinylcounseling?
    #
    Yeh, the connection’s fine.
    It’s Fat Charlie.
    #
    Yeh, the Archangel.
    I need a Sickie. You do do Sickies?
    #
    Oh well. Nevermind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no opinion about that. (But happy to write you a certificate, Charlie)

      Like

      1. I do love a teleconsult.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Me too. And I love a prompted spin too… Just been dancing around the room to Graceland (Side 1). Thanks!

          Like

          1. I’m glad to know you had a dance. It’s a truly great album.

            Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve been at home with the kids for over 500 days, now, I know all about atrophy. Creativity does help.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Enjoyed that fella. It’s a mixed bag out there (like always). Like some said “I’m trying not to add to the madness”. These little exchanges help.

    Liked by 1 person

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