Archive for October 26th, 2021

The River

GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021

Symphony of Silence“- At the Principle Gallery, Alexandria,VA

I woke up on the couch last night just as a Stephen Colbert interview with Bruce Springsteen was coming to an end. Springsteen then finished the show with an acoustic version of the title track from his 1980 album, The River.

It’s a song that has always hung close to my heart and one, as Springsteen claimed last night, that has aged well. I spent a lot of hours in the dark back around that time, 40 some years back, listening to this song on my stereo, the soft blue light from my old Fisher amp setting a quiet and deep tone in the room.

Much of this album seemed to be made for listening in that blue light in the darkness. Sometimes I wonder if I am trying to recapture the feel of that blue light in some of my paintings such as the piece at the top. The feel, for me, is much the same. And the interesting thing is that though the circumstances of my life have changed dramatically for the better in the intervening decades, my reaction to this song is the same as it was when I was a depressed 20 year old married factory worker with little idea how to make my way in life with the few prospects available to me.

The fact is that I didn’t even know at that point that one could dare to dream of better things for themselves. And I think that’s the core of this song, that the inherent sadness of this life is not so much about unrealized dreams but more about undreamt dreams, about our inability to imagine ourselves in better circumstances in a better world.

Throughout the years, I knew so many folks without dreams or goals who languished in their day to day lives. When asked, many didn’t even know what they wanted for themselves.

They didn’t dare to dream. They were much like theĀ  the narrator of this song, always looking back or in a sad present with nothing to pull them into the future. We need to dare to have a dream if only to have something that gives us a path into the future.

Failing to reach your dreams is a sad song but not having a dream at all is the saddest song of all. It is living without hope. Maybe the reason this song resonated so strongly with me is that I was in the midst of realizing this back then. It’s a realization that helps me still.

Here’s the song from Bruce Springsteen, pared down and still as powerful as it was forty one years ago.

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