By Hans Ebert
If you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with. Stephen Stills wrote that when apparently after breaking up with (singer-songwriter) Judy Collins.
It made sense at the time. But the more one travels and meets those you can pretend to love, it not only gets harder and harder, it becomes pointless- pointless because we only really love one person and the rest are distractions. It’s living a lie and numbing real feelings. It’s about a fear of being alone.
For a man, it’s not being weak or needy, it’s just coming to the heart of the matter. If even the most basic tunesmith, it’s about putting these feelings into song- and with no strings attached. We’re all living on borrowed time and in uncertain times. One never knows when that mystery train is going to take you down a different route where it might be the arid world of Bladerunner or the great mystical and mythological romance of Camelot.
Having “been” to Camelot when five eighths of my brain was open through feeding my head, there’s always been a side to me that longs to return to that time even when the three nuns row me to the lake after the last battle and when Excalibur is returned to The Lady Of The Lake.
Of course, those were the days when everything was possible, when we hadn’t become slaves to technology and intuitively knew who should be banished from whatever Garden Of Eden was left.
Personally, now is the time to revisit Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys album that was all Brian Wilson- the Orson Welles of Pop, and whose masterwork even inspired the Beatles to return to where they belong and seek out Sgt Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Did the other Beach Boys or many of us understand the emotional weight that Brian Wilson was sharing with the world? Not then, no. But thank gawd, we do now. It’s never too late and Pet Sounds was way too cerebral for even the group’s record label to grasp. It was a monumental flop. Today, it’s one of the most influential recordings of popular music. It’s one of the greatest paeans to romance. The jagged honesty cut through the superficial surfboard pop of Surfing USA.
As Neil Young once sang, many of are living on the edge of a feather expecting to fly, but with no direction of home. It’s called The Fuck It All period where you realise that you can’t take it with you, and trying to find that inspiration to carry on.
The greatest source of inspiration? The right woman. Sure, we’ve all met many. Some of us are with the one that became two together and trying to make it work despite there being escape clauses. Romance, love, it’s not what it was. No one stays in a relationship while both sides are looking for better opportunities.
The rest of us are not searching because we found what we were looking for the moment we set eyes on her. And if she’s now gone and there’s even the slightest chance of being with her again, romance her like you once should have.
Better yet, write a song for her and let her know it’s for her and keep it exclusively for her. Those days when something you wrote- a song, a poem, a letter, an email that said something so personal, but which could make the rounds so you could cover all bases because of needing options are a stupid game.
Maybe I’m amazed at how you love me all the time? If so, reciprocate and make her know she’s the special person she’s always been.
We talk about looking out for number one. Well, where we just might have it wrong is that we’re number three or four and we’re letting number one go without fighting for her. And as almost every songwriter, no matter how famous they might be, there’s always some form of redemption and salvation to be found by putting down in music what’s alive in your heart.
She might be too scared and scarred to believe the words, but as long as you know how true they are, at least you’re being honest to yourself.
There’s just too little honesty around these days with people being with people for all the wrong reasons and happy to numb themselves and live a lie. No one wants to leave this world living a lie. It follows you everywhere you go.
#StephenStills #JudyCollins #PetSounds #BeachBoys #BrianWilson