“The moon rose over an open field.”
Teen angst. Most of us experienced it at one time.
The teenage years, and into our early 20s are a time of new experiences that can often lead to feelings of extreme helplessness, alienation, even suicide. Most of us get over it in time – most of the time anyway.
Does this mean we know better, that life is good after all? Or is youth a time of greater clarity, greater insight into life?
I was thinking recently about life weariness and the 1968 Simon and Garfunkel album, Bookends.
Bookends – the album
There are some happy songs on the second half of this album, but the first side, written when Paul Simon was about 26, has its fair share of disturbing thoughts.
Save the life of my child tells the story of a teenage boy standing on a high-rise window ledge threatening to jump. His mother keeps crying for help, but the onlookers seem only interested in the spectacle.
America starts with two young lovers embarking on an adventure exploring their nation, but the dream doesn’t last. Darkness falls, the bus is quiet, and as the narrator watches, “the moon rose over an open field”.
“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”
The next three tracks tell of a relationship that’s over, then lives that are nearly over – including two old friends, sitting “on their parkbench like bookends …. silently sharing the same fears”.
And then this short song cycle ends with:
Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago . . . it must be . . .
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
I have just turned 69. I’m not sitting on any parkbench right now. But I can still feel the sadness in Paul Simon’s songs.
Are our memories all that we’re left with?
I don’t believe so.
But I’m glad I have good reason to think that.