Saturday Single No. 540

A fresh cup of coffee sits on my right, a bowl of Grape Nuts dusted with brown sugar is soaking up milk on a TV tray to my left, and I’m struggling with writing a piece for tomorrow’s Parents Day program at our UU Fellowship. (We don’t meet during the summer months, when Father’s Day falls, so when Mother’s Day comes around, we celebrate all parents.)

As I deal these days with the issues of an aging mother, I’m learning that the roles of parent and child sometimes shift and, in some ways, reverse. And in thinking about the circles of life, I’m reminded of this bit of verse I wrote while I was in graduate school in 1984, titled, appropriately, “The Circle Always Closes.”

The circle always closes, and time swings on its hinge.
You look ahead, but then you find the past once more in view:
People you’d thought left behind through time or simple chance
Appear again in warning, love and wisdom in each glance.
To know of what they’re warning, you must confront them still,
You must consider what they said and did while forming you.
To forget is to abandon, so you recollect, and then
The circle always closes, and you build anew again.

That put me in mind, of course, of another lyric, a better one that’s been put to melody: Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” which Tom Rush recorded as the title tune of his 1968 album, which is where I heard it first. It’s a good song, and I have a few versions of it here. My favorite is the one by Ian & Sylvia; that one was on their 1967 album So Much For Dreaming, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Songwriting credited corrected after first posting.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 540”

  1. David Young says:

    First time I heard this song was from Ian and Sylvia in 1967 at the New Penelope, a coffeehouse in Montreal. I was still in high school. It was one of the first times I went to a club. Among the act that played there – Mothers of Invention, Fugs, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Blues Project, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Watters, James Cotton, Rev. Gary Davis….

    At one point they said “just to prove there’s talent in Saskatchewan, here’s a song by a wonderful new songwriter. Then they did “Circle Game”.

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