I’ve Been Out Walking

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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.               ~ Psalms 34:18

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days…

I guess you could say I really have been out walking. I surely have not found time to write any new posts over the past few months, nor have I had much of a desire to do so. Like so many things, it was in the back of my mind, calling me, but I just couldn’t seem to get my head, or my hands, to do it.

These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I can’t really say I forgot. I wanted to, I really did. There was just so much coming down, crashing all around me. So much change, so much ending. So much starting, too. I can say I have a lot of regrets.  And maybe not so much about things done, but things left undone. Not things said, but things left unsaid. And, yes, I surely had the chances to do and say them.

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
These days…

crossroads

We all come to crossroads in our lives. It’s just a matter of when and where. So, how do we know which way to go? Who do we turn to for counsel? Even then, will the road we’ve chosen be for better or worse? Or just different? As I write this, a hoot owl sounds outside my open window. I wonder what that means, or if it means anything at all? Life to me seems, more than ever, like a random series of circumstances.

Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long

As Joe Walsh said (and I paraphrase here): When it’s happening, life can seem like a crazy mess of random acts. But when you look back on it, in time, it reveals itself to be a perfectly scripted song. I’m hoping you are right, Joe. But I guess I’m still in the middle, ’cause looking back, it still makes no sense to me.

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days…

So, I’ll keep on walking. We all will.  And even if we can’t see it now, things are surely improving. When we look back, after some time has passed, we’ll see that it was getting better. That our walks were taking us exactly where we were meant to go.

These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

My failures are definitely not forgotten. They are there, always with me, under the surface. I will take some time to measure them. But then I will let them go. We all have to focus on the future and what lies ahead of us. We need not dwell too long in the past. I am saddened by some things  I’ve seen and done, but I’m encouraged and made hopeful by others.

As it says in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord”.  Those are words we can all take comfort in. And a little bit of consolation from Jackson Browne can’t hurt either.

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“These Days” was one of my favorites from his 1973 release For Everyman. Jackson had actually written the song back in 1964 when he was only 16 years old, under the original title “I’ve Been Out Walking”. The song was first recorded in 1967 by the German artist Nico, on her debut album, Chelsea Girl.  It has been covered since by artists as diverse as The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tom Rush, Jennifer Warnes, 10,000 Maniacs, Fountains of Wayne and Glen Campbell, among many others.

But it was Greg Allman’s version from his 1973 solo debut, Laid Back, that really brought the song to prominence and prompted Jackson to include it on For Everyman. If you happen to have a copy of the old vinyl LP, check out the liner notes. You’ll see that JB thanks Gregg for the arrangement there. For many listeners and critics at the time (including American Songwriter magazine) , Gregg’s version overshadowed Jackson’s. But I’ve always favored JB’s.

So, lets all take a time out from our walking and enjoy this live version from him here:

And check out Gregg’s version here:

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Into a Dancer You Have Grown

dancer

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. -Ecclesiastes 3:4

“Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down.”

I’m getting to that age, you know. That age where people I know are starting to leave. It seems like more each year. Or is it just that I’m listening more?  That it’s more real?

“I don’t remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you’re nowhere to be found.”

And contrary to the righteous Bobby Hatfield, time does not go by so slowly. No, it rushes by now, hurtling forward…no emergency brake here.  And those that you think will be here forever, suddenly no longer are.

It’s so easy to lose touch. Even with the power of social media. And speaking of that, I’ve got three Facebook friends who are no longer with us. Yet their Facebook pages live on (and sometimes even make posts) to remind me. It’s strange, but also somewhat comforting.

“No matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone.”

Frank and Elvis said they would do it “my way” and they surely did. But when the time comes, we’re all on our own. Life begins with the closest personal relationship most of us will ever have, and ends (for most) without it.

“Into a dancer you have grown, from a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know…”

Jackson Browne was one of the founding fathers of the SoCal “country-rock” scene in the 70’s, and along with John David Souther, helped show Glenn Frey and Don Henley a little bit about songwriting. As much as I loved the Eagles, I never thought they were able to match the pure lyrical genius of either of those guys.

“For A Dancer” has long been my favorite cut off Jackson’s third album, Late For The Sky.It seems just a bit ironic that this song came out two years before the death by suicide of his first wife, Phyllis Major, in 1976. The following “landmark” album, The Pretender, solidified Jackson’s grip on the genre, and his next, Running On Empty, was his biggest commercial success, but I always thought LFTS was superior.

Fellow SoCal rocker, Linda Ronstadt, covered only two of Jackson’s songs; “For A Dancer” with Emmylou Harris and “Rock Me On The Water”, both from Jackson’s earlier, less popular, works. Her versions of both, with that voice as big as the house, actually trump Jackson’s originals. But, then again, I’m a little biased when it comes to Linda!

Life, as they say, is short. So, as JB urges here, go on and sow some seeds of your own; go on and make a joyful sound!

Listen here:

Linda and Emmylou: