Posts Tagged ‘Don McLean’

Saturday Single No. 633

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

I’ll be spending a good portion of today at my other keyboard – the musical one – getting ready to return tomorrow to my role as one of the musicians at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Along with the standard offertory and the song we sing as the children head toward their classes, I’ll be playing two other pieces: I’ll lead the fellowship in a chant titled “Be Ye Lamps Unto Yourselves” at the close of the service.

And during the middle of the service, I’ll be playing as I sing Don McLean’s “Crossroads,” a meditation on life from his 1971 American Pie album. My compatriot Tom will sit in on bass, but I don’t know if I will have any other vocal support. No matter. I’ll do the best I can.

I’ve shared the tune here once before, about five years ago, but I thought that this time, I’d share the lyrics:

I’ve got nothing on my mind, nothing to remember
Nothing to forget and I’ve got nothing to regret
But I’m all tied up on the inside. No one knows quite what I’ve got
And I know that on the outside what I used to be I’m not. Anymore.

You know I’ve heard about people like me but I never made the connection
They walk one road to set them free and find they’ve gone the wrong direction
But there’s no need for turning back, ’cause all roads lead to where I stand;
And I believe I’ll walk them all, no matter what I may have planned

Can you remember who I was? Can you still feel it?
Can you find my pain? Can you heal it?
Then lay your hands upon me now and cast this darkness from my soul
You alone can light my way, you alone can make me whole . . . once again

We’ve walked both sides of every street, through all kinds of windy weather;
But that was never our defeat as long as we could walk together
So there’s no need for turning back, ’cause all roads lead to where we stand;
And I believe we’ll walk them all, no matter what we may have planned

“Crossroads” is a piece that’s sustained me through any of numbers of turns in my life over the past thirty-some years, reminding me that no matter which roads I walk, I will find myself where I am supposed to be. For that reason, and because it’s going to be in my head today, Don McLean’s “Crossroads” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 383

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

During the first year of this blog’s existence, I wrote about my visit to Stonehenge, on England’s Salisbury Plain:

I walked among the old stones, laying my hands on this one and then that one, watching the sunlight and shade change the colors of the stones from light orange to dull gray, taking photographs . . . and absorbing what I can only call the silence of thousands of years. I felt gratified that I had kept a promise made to myself when I was very young. But even more than that, I felt something that was, all at the same time, odd, eerie, compelling and familiar. I felt as if I knew the place . . .

How had I been there before? Possible explanations I’ve considered (however unlikely they may be) are time travel, alternate universes, sheer folly and reincarnation. I lean toward the latter, but I do not know. All I know is that as I wandered the pathways among the ancient stones, stones put in place about five thousand years ago and abandoned sometime later, I felt as if I were returning. It’s not that I belonged there in that year of 1974, but as if I had belonged there somewhen else.

There is, of course, a barrier that separates the life we understand at least a little from things we do not understand very well (if at all). I do believe that there are places in the world where that barrier is very thin. Among the places I’ve heard mentioned where that is true are Sedona, Arizona, and Mount Shasta, California, here in the U.S.; Machu Picchu in Peru and the Pyramids in Egypt. There are likely more that I’m forgetting. I am certain, though, that Stonehenge is one of those places.

That visit took place – and I took the photograph above – forty years ago today. As I wrote a few weeks ago “some dates stick hard in my mind.” Today’s date, March 8, is one of those. And although no song can truly reflect how I felt in that hour or so I spent among those ancient stones that day, I’ve come to realize over the years that there is a path – at times indirect and winding but nevertheless clear – from what I felt at Stonehenge in 1974 to some of my firm beliefs today about why we are here and where we go next.

The one recording I know of that speaks plainly to those beliefs is as matter-of-fact as the stones on Salisbury Plain are, literally, monumental. That’s all right, though: Stonehenge was a once in a lifetime experience, and the vast majority of our time here is more matter-of-fact than monumental. So on this anniversary date, Don McLean’s 1971 album track “Crossroads” speaks to me as it has for years, and I know it needs to be today’s Saturday Single.