Paradise And The Great Divide

dry-cracked-earth

The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. – Leviticus 25:23

And they came from everywhere
to the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand
or a place to hide

Too much stuff…when it comes down to it. Most of us just have too much stuff. And we want more. Why? Ever thought about it?

I met a man recently, a very wealthy man. Until his house burned down. Along with everything in it. Including his six car garage, with all the vehicles still inside. He told me he’d never felt so blessed, so free, or so at peace (once he got over the initial shock). He’d never realized how badly all of that stuff was weighing him down.

And, if you’ve never watched Annie Leonard’s “Story Of Stuff”…well, you need to. It may just change your life. Not gonna tag it here, but it’s on YouTube.  🙂

And they called it paradise
I don’t know why
Somebody laid the mountains low
while the town got high

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. And we turn inward to our own pursuits while the world burns. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s getting older. I’m not sure, but I do know this: it is our endless quest for more possessions that leads to this destruction of the very thing which God has charged us all with safekeeping.

Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ’em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ’em

Now I’m no “tree-hugger” for sure, but doesn’t it kind of turn your stomach when you pull into these new housing developments where they just bulldoze the land flat and then build a bunch of “McMansions” 12′ apart? Then there’s the ultimate insult added to injury. Yup, they plant a single small tree in the yard, positioned just so. And a few cute bushes. Ain’t that grand?

Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
‘Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here

It’s no secret that The Eagles are one of my favorite bands of all time. To me (other than the lineup changes) they were the second Beatles. The songwriting skills of Lennon/McCartney vs. Frey/Henley. Sgt. Pepper vs, Hotel California. The guitar chops of Joe Walsh vs. George Harrison. The Long Run vs. Let It Be. Breaking up (seemingly overnight) at the peak of their fame. McCartney vs. Henley as a solo artist. Let It Be was released in May 1970 and the buzz from the Beatle’s breakup had barely died down when “Take It Easy” came rolling smoothly off the airwaves in May of 1972.

We satisfy our endless needs and
justify our bloody deeds,
in the name of destiny and the name of God

How much stuff do we really need, anyway? How many TV’s are in your house? There’s seven in mine. For four people. Most of the time only three, as my daughter is away at college. And, as the Boss sang: “There’s 57 channels and nothing on…”. Actually closer to 400 at my house. And can you conceive of the carbon footprint needed to supply them?

And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

 

No wonder so many people have a dim view of organized religion. Henley has painted the picture perfectly here. As we stand in church and sing, the majority of us have no real concept of applying what the Bible says to our everyday lives. People looking in from the outside shake their heads and we don’t understand why. If Christians behave the same way (or worse) than the general public, then how valid can the argument for Jesus be? If only they knew; the Church is simply a hospital for sinners. We go to try to get well.

In a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Don Henley said, “The gist of the song was that when we find something good, we destroy it by our presence — by the very fact that man is the only animal on earth that is capable of destroying his environment.”

“The Last Resort” was the last song on side two of the album, Hotel California, but was later re-released as the “B” side to the single “Life In The Fast Lane”. Seems perfect: I guess that’s where the fast lane ultimately leads…the last resort.

Yup, we’re singing about Heaven on Sunday and living in Hell all week.

And thus endeth my rant. 🙂

Note: Due to copyright laws I couldn’t find an Eagles original version to share. Sorry!

 

 

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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: