Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Maudlin Thought For New Year's Eve

In keeping with the sentiments in the essay below:

Hello, old friend!
What a strange coincidence to find you.
It's been fifteen years since we last met,
But I still recognized you.
So call the barman over here,
And let us fill our glasses,
And drink a toast to olden times,
Where all our memories lie,
Where all our memories lie...

Do you remember the time when we were young?
Lowly, lowly, low,
Outside the window, the frosty moonlight hung
On the midnight snow,
So we pulled our scarves around our faces in the night,
Huddled on the doorsteps where the fairy lights shone bright,
Singing Christmas carols while our breath hung in the light...
It all comes back like yesterday,
It almost seems like yesterday...

Do you remember the changes as we grew?
Slowly, slowly, slow,
Sneaking round the back way into movies after school,
For the evening show.
Chasing skinny bluejeaned girls across the building site,
Checking out the dance floor while the band played "Hold Me Tight,"
See the blonde one over there, I bet she'd be all right...
It all comes back like yesterday,
It almost seems like yesterday...

While I talked he sat and he never made a sound,
Staring at the glass beside me,
Hey, old friend, tell me what's on your mind?
Silence grows on you like ivy.

Do you remember the church across the sands,
Holy, holy, ho,
You stood outside and planned to travel to the lands
Where the pilgrims go,
So you packed your world up inside a canvas sack,
Set out down the highway with your rings and Kerouac,
Someone said they saw you in Nepal a long time back...
Tell me why you look away,
Don't you have a word to say?

He said "I don't remember,
"I don't want to remember,
"In fact I’ve heard too much already.
"I don't want to think,
"So just leave me here to drink,
"Wrapped up in the warmth of New York City.
"Oh, oh, it seems you just don't know,
"And you just don't understand me,
"I've got no use for the tricks of modern times,
"They tangle all my thoughts like ivy,
"Ivy..."

So I left him and I went out to the street,
Lowly, lowly, low,
Where the red-light girls were coming after me,
Forty dollar show,
All across the city's heart, the lights were coming on,
The hotel lift softly hummed a Cole Porter song,
If I went to look for him, I knew he would be gone...
A picture-card of yesterday
A photograph of yesterday...

And far off in a deserted part of town,
The shadows, like a silent army,
Flooded out the rooms in pools of blue and brown,
And stuck to all the walls like ivy,
Ivy,
Ivy...

(Al Stewart, "Modern Times," 1976)

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