Saturday Single No. 200

As they often do during the first days of September, my thoughts this week turned toward Fredericia, Denmark, and the nearly nine months I spent there with about one hundred other St. Cloud State students during the 1973-74 academic year.

I wasn’t alone, though. Early this week, Greg and Gail – a couple who met as St. Cloud students during our time in Denmark and have been together ever since – sent an email to the Denmark group, detailing their recent visit to Fredericia and attaching a few pictures of the city where we once lived. That sparked a series of emails filled with tales and memories and ideas, including the thought that we should plan a set of get-togethers sometime in Copenhagen and Fredericia.

Some folks remembered pranks: Who put the bicycles on the roof? Others recalled parties, with fuel provided by the energy of youth and good Danish beer. Several people recalled the open-face sandwiches – smørrebrød – that are a Danish delicacy, with one woman noting she still loves liver pate with red beets. (I can do without the beets; make mine liver pate with cucumbers on dark rye bread, and I’m more than happy.)

Now middle-aged, we shared in our emails tales of marathon train trips across Western Europe, tales of the startling opulence of the subway system in the city that used to be called Leningrad in the nation that used to be called the Soviet Union, and tales of extraordinary days spent in extraordinary places.

Those emails that went back and forth this week reminded me and reassured me that I’m not the only one who continues to find those months in Denmark a touchstone. One of our guys said this week that it was “a moment in time that helped shape me into the person I have become.” That time in Fredericia wasn’t the best time of my life; as I’ve told friends, right now is the best time of my life (and I can thank the Texas Gal for that). But those nearly nine months of living in Denmark and traveling from there throughout Europe brought me without doubt the largest formative experience of my life. Much of who I am, how I think and the things I love – from the serious things like history and ideas about political and social policy to the less-serious things like my passions for fine beer and Danish pop music – took root in that time.

And that time began on the evening of September 4, 1973, thirty-seven years ago today. I told my friends during our e-fest this week that getting together again in Denmark would truly be a dream come true, as I have not been back to Denmark since we all came home together in May of 1974. Then I added:

“In the meantime, perhaps we all should take a moment about nine o’clock Saturday evening to tip our glasses to a long-ago group of impossibly young people who started their adventures thirty-seven years ago that day.  Speaking for me, from the moment I walked away from my family and joined the rest of you as we headed toward the plane, my life has been richer in ways I can’t count today and that I could not have imagined on that evening in September 1973.”

What song can possibly speak to those thoughts? I considered many of the tunes we heard nearly every day in the lounge of the youth hostel where most of us lived for at least a portion of the year. But as much as I love them, neither “Ramblin’ Man” nor “Loan Me A Dime” nor “Us and Them” nor any of the regular tunes from the lounge seem to fit.

So I’m turning to a song I first heard during the summer of 1973, as I was preparing for my time in Denmark, and I’d like to think I took its advice during that adventure. Here’s “Page 43,” today’s Saturday Single:

“Page 43” by Graham Nash & David Crosby
From Graham Nash/David Crosby [1973]

Look around again
It’s the same old circle
You see, it’s got to be
It says right here on Page 43
That you should grab a hold of it
Else you’ll find
It’s passed you by

Rainbows all around
Can you find the silver and gold?
It’ll make you old
The river can be hot or cold
And you should dive right into it
Else you’ll find
It’s passed you by

Pass it ’round one more time
I think I’ll have a swallow of wine
Life is fine
Even with the ups and downs
And you should have a sip of it
Else you’ll find
It’s passed you by

(©1972 David Crosby)

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3 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 200”

  1. jb says:

    You’ve done it again, my friend. Beautifully said.

  2. AmyE says:

    One of your best entries! The letting go moment, the coming around again, the forever impact and savored friendships. We are enriched by your eloquence.

  3. Mike Cooper says:

    Indeed, you capture the feeling those of us on that journey, looking back at that time with the appreciation of our 37 years of life experience. Those times, even the mundane of the hostel daily existence, are like diamonds in our treasure box. Thanks!

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