Thursday, 30 June 2016


We like to believe we forge ourselves, but that summer on the Acres, submerged in my youth, I realised for the first time how many of the songs I grew up on were about wilful loneliness. The 60s and 70s were a transcendent era. And restive.
Green green, it's green they say
On the far side of the hill,
the New Christy Minstrels sang, when I was two.
Green green, I'm going away
To where the grass is greener still1
Turning it over, it occurred to me that I hadn't heard a song like that in ages.

One by one, titles spilled from memory: Castles in the Air; Five Hundred Miles; Early Morning Rain; Four Strong Winds; Gentle On My Mind; Don't Think Twice It's All Right; I Was Born Under A Wandering Star; I Got a Name; Take It Easy.

Some were bold, some wistful. Some angry. But all were about homelessness.

A man wonders what it might have meant, all those years ago. And what it might mean now, these many years later.

Snakes in the ocean, eels in the sea
I let a redheaded woman make a fool out of me
And it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering
No it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering2

1. Green Green, by Randy Sparks and Barry McGuire. Copyright New Christy Music.
2. Wandering, by James Taylor. Copyright Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of young people on walkabout in 1972 courtesy of Tomas Sennet, the US National Archives and Records Administration, and Wikimedia Commons.)
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