Armchair Peregrinations


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September 2, 1998

Just finished a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie with some black walnut ice cream. Delicious! The simple pleasures of life.

*****

Some rain came the other night, and it's turned noticeably cooler, that is, in comparison to the 105 degree heat index days we had earlier in the week. I am glad for that. Sitting on the porch in the rocking chair tonight, I detected that first, ever-so-slight whisp of autumn in the air. It was decidedly cooler, and I could actually sit outside and enjoy it. The leaves are already starting to turn brown and yellow in some of the trees, mainly because of the drought, but still a sign of fall.

September is that really in-between season. There's more than a little regret that summer's over, and yet anticipation of the cooler weather to come, and, with it, a rise in my general level of optimism and a change in my overall disposition. The woods are still green, but they're gradually starting to take on another appearance, so different by mid to late October. The skies are not as filled with those big, billowy clouds of summer, and there's a definite change in the rhythm of life. All nature seems to be alert to these changes.

September 5, 1998

Charleston was surprised by the force of the winds of Tropical Storm Earl Thursday which had quickly made its way through Florida, initially as a hurricane, and then into Georgia and South Carolina. We had wind gusts up to 62 miles an hour downtown and sustained winds of 45 mph. It lasted much of the afternoon Thursday and included a few heavy bands of rain. I came home from work and found that my power was out and had been for six hours. It finally came back on with a blast of air conditioning units revving up at once and several lights popping on at 3:30 in the morning Friday. I lost all my frozen food and had to dump that yesterday. During the outage, I lit candles and read by the light of one of them plus a small battery-powered reading light that I clipped onto my lamp shade. I opened the sliding glass door and let some of the strong winds come in for awhile, so it wasn't hot and was actually quite bearable.

During hurricane season, I feel like a sitting duck here on the coast of South Carolina. We almost got hit good the previous week with Hurricane Bonnie and spent a few nerve-wracking days watching reports on the Weather Channel and the Internet. I had to be adept at finding alternate sites for Hurricane Center bulletins as the Internet was jammmed for days with others like me seeking information. How utterly puny and at the mercy of the elements we are at these times, never knowing what our city's fate may be at the hands of these hideous wind storms that fire up off the coast Africa each year and angrily storm across the ocean in a gathering maelstrom of forces that occassionally defy prediction as to their course.

Today, however, everything was different. After a much cooler day Thursday, it was back to tropical heat. By late evening, though, it was considerably nicer out, and I drove to the beach where one of those perfect endlesss summer days was winding down slowly. It was high tide, and I watched and listened to the waves' almost rhythmic march ashore. As twilight gradually approached, a full moon out over the water gradually became more incandescent until it was a white lamp in the darkening sky. I stared at it in fascination for awhile, and it seemed near enough to be able to cup in my hands.

September 6, 1998

Yesterday, during a nice, relaxing Saturday morning, I decided to dig into some old boxes in my closet and go back 10, 20, 30 years to some of my previous writings, school papers, newspaper clippings, etc. Everytime I do this, and it's sometimes many months between episodes, I experience a slight jarring of my present consciousness and enter into a somewhat altered state of mind. The present soon vanishes into the past and I'm reliving some of those emotions and experiences of long ago. Some of the papers I haven't seen or read in ages. Some were revisited only recently. I looked through an old yearbook I produced 20 years ago at a center for the mentally retarded, full of photographs of clients and staff that I painstakingly took and developed in a friend's darkroom way out in the country on long nights after work. I found old high school geometry tests and college intro to philosophy exams, postcards, trip memorabilia, poetry and essays former students had written, newspaper columns, and, the focus of my writing this evening, two major research papers from high school on subjects which will shed much light on the origins of my love of nature and nature writing. My junior year paper for American Lit was titled, "Emerson and Thoreau -- Transcendalism: Nature and Man" and the other was written for my senior year study of British literature and entitled, "William Wordsworth -- The Spiritual Impact of Nature." Pretty heady subject matter for a 17 and 18 year old youth, I must have thought at the time, for some of the wording is rather layered and dense with adolescent earnestness, but the what is there conveys a very revealing portent of the person I am today.

It is obvious to me now that I had very intense longings for a world beyond my often stressful, everyday life in the suburbs of New Orleans. My trips through the Southern countryside over the years during vacations to South Carolina confirmed the existence of a different world: red clay and pine trees, small towns with bustling downtown business districts and tree-lined streets, rivers and streams and farms and countryside that constituted exotic climes to my New Orleans-bound imagination. So back in the flat, dull, traffic-clogged, canal-filled and, to me, utterly ugly urban landscape, I dreamed, during long, dull classes, of escape to woods and creeks and ocean beaches. I remembered all the smells and sensations of being far from home, the summer smells of earth and pine trees, cool millpond water I swam in, and the salt air of Folly Beach.

When I first started reading Thoreau's "Walden", and then his journals, in high school, I felt an immediate kinship. My senior year, I developed a fascination for the rather sublime phrasing of Wordsworth's nature poetry. Unfortunately, my English teacher didn't focus enough on my carefully thought-out my observations and instead, on my Thoreau paper, dwelt on such matters as paragraph transitions and width of the margins at the top of the pages. Oh, well..

In that paper on Thoreau, I wrote: "The only way a person can truly be away from the madness of society is to get away and communicate with Nature [This was the 60s, remember]. Nature provides man with an inexhaustible supply of knowledge which is there for the taking." On Emerson's essay, "Nature", I wrote about a passage I quoted: "From this we see also how much respect he felt for the wonders of Nature. The clear, descriptive prose he uses paints a picture on our minds of the beauty we have often seen but little appreciated." I observed that Thoreau's powers of observation and appreciation of the simple wonders of Nature were "extremely acute", as in these lines from his journal of June 14, 1851: "Where my path crosses the brook in the meadow there is a singularly sweet scent in the heavy air bathing the brakes where the brakes grew -- the fragrance of the earth, as if the dew were a distillation of the fragrant essences of Nature...And now my senses are captivated again by a sweet fragrance as I enter the embowered willow causeway..."

I was, and remain, in awe of Thoreau the man and Thoreau the visionary of his time. His retreat to the cabin he built struck me as symbolic of his rather extreme individualism and need to live apart from his fellow inhabitants for awhile. I concluded my paper with these remarks: "In the time allotted him he would not waste away the precious gift of life but devote his life to the path his intellect was blazing through the wilderness of eternity," ending with that famous quote, "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." Wow, that really brings some things into focus for me these 30 years later. While my adult readings of Thoreau in subsequent years may not have always yielded as rich a harvest as some of these youthful insights, and, in fact, I've found his journals really tough going and tedius at times, I can't deny what a profound impact his writings have had on me.

This is why it's so important, in my view, to save our earliest writings, and other bits of flotsam and jetsam from our pasts. Those high school writings are my history, fragments of my becoming as a person, a much more innocent person then, capable of genuine and truly unaffected idealism. It was an age of idealism, in many respects.

In another journal entry, I want to talk about the influence of Wordsworth and record some of my earliest impressions of him and his writing from high school and college literature courses. And, of course, I want to record some of his lines from "Tinturn Abbey" and "Ode, Intimations of Immortality.."

I also uncovered today in my closet of memories, a copy of my travel journals during a second major trip around the country in 1985. I had been unable to find it, and now it shows up to my profound relief. I want to revisit some of those experiences and write about them in these pages.

September 7, 1998

Labor Day and the end of summer. What better way to spend it than at the beach, which, to my surprise, was not any more crowded than an ordinary weekend. I set up the lounge chair and the beach umbrella, opened my book, and plopped down. Immediately that wonderful ocean breeze calmed me down and soothed my soul. It didn't take long. It was just too perfect a summer day. Temps about 89 or 90. Strong breeze, but not really windy. People lying in the sun, swimming in the ocean, flying a kite, surf fishing. One youth, after an hour or so of fishing, decided to go swimming, and I'm telling you, he seemed to leap in and out of the water like a flying fish of some sort. Just really seemed to be a part of the ocean. To belong there. That's where we came from, right?

This was the type of afternoon that I really didn't want to see end. I could hardly bring my self to get up and pack my things to return to town. Each time I'd start to get up, I'd plop myself right down again and start breathing deep draughts of that salt air. Every now and then I'd look around and see the same people, in the same spots, hour after hour. It was like there was no time, but the present. That's the essence of summer.

September 8, 1998

I've long wanted to visit England, and if I should ever travel to those far off green shores, I would make my way as soon as possible to the Lake District. There I would take hikes and wander among the enchantingly beautiful landscapes, far from London. This area inspired the writings of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and from the pictures I've seen of the area, I can see why.

This morning I'm holding in my hands an 1858 edition of his "Poetical Works," found years ago in a small antique shop in rural Mississippi. I can't make out the name on the inscription, but it was presented at Christmas in 1861 as "a reward for diligent progress in all her studies." I hope she was pleased with this treasure, as it was evidently well cared for over the years. The ornate, dark green leather binding is still sturdy and intact.

Since those long ago years in high school when I wrote my English research/analysis paper on Wordsworth, I have returned often to passages of his verse, and memorable lines are etched in my memory. Returning to the banks of the Wye River in "Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tinturn Abbey," Wordsworth writes: "Once again/Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,/Which, on a wild, secluded scene impress/Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect/the landscape with the sky." Later in the poem he writes that, amid the din and confusion of town and city, his recollection of those scenes in nature restored him to some measure of equilibrium and tranquility.

This is why it is so vitally necessary that we have large parks, and preserve wilderness areas, and create green belts around our cities: to counter the effects of human expansion, vulgarity and materialism. Stay in a city long enough without getting out to breathe the purer air of the countryside, and you inhabit a noisy cocoon where all seems relatively normal and workaday until you pause to consider what you're surrounded by. Cars whizzing down four-lane highways to escape to the beach are just one manifestation of this need to shed the city for awhile.

Even when I'm driving down the old Charleston Highway (U.S. 76), virtually traffic-free and surrounded by pastoral scenes of farms and open countryside, I still inhabit that hurry-up world of the city, my mind only gradually giving up the stress and anxiety which I've sought to leave behind temporarily. If, perchance, in the still, early morning while traveling that highway to Columbia, I decide to pull off down a sandy, dirt side road, stop the car and get out, my senses suddenly seem more alive. The air smells so clean and fresh, the quiet is undisturbed, the woods along the road fragrant and inviting. But one has to consciously seek out these experiences and places, go into them and be still. They are hidden and unnoticed otherwise.

September 10, 1998

Curious things pop into your mind in the course of observing daily life around you after you've been thinking of poetry or some other remarkable words you've read recently. While driving down Broad Street the other day heading into Charleston, I passed an intersection at Colonial Lake and turned to the left to see a mother and her toddler in a stroller waiting to cross at the light. The child was sitting bolt upright in the stroller and had an almost adult-like expression on her face. I could see in that face, in just a second or so, what she would look like years later, or so I thought at the moment. I was startled. How much can we see in the face of a child of what his past has been or his future holds in store? Here are words I had been reading from Wordworth's "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood": "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:/The soul that rises with us, our life's star, /Hath had elsewhere its setting,/And cometh from afar;/Not in entire forgetfulness,/And not in utter nakedness,/But trailing clouds of glory do we come/From God, who is our home/"

September 11, 1998

There is no experience quite like making visits to a large hospital. One comes in from the fresh air of the outside world to enter busy, well-lit halls full of wheelchairs, carts of medicines and various medical supples, nurses, patients, visitors and doctors, all in a facility whose main purpose is to provide for the treatment of illness and disease. The smells, the sights, the sounds all convey, with a rather unnerving directness, the unalterable fact of our mortality, inhabiting wondrous bodies which are a delight to behold and admire in youth, but which, with age, are consumed slowly by the ravages of time and cellular exhaustion. The aging joggers who come pounding in off the expressway that leads right to the hospitals all along Calhoun Street are living in fools' paradises, trying to extend their lives by supposedly making their hearts and lungs function more smoothly for a few years. In the meantime the jarring hard pavement is making gristle of their joints and connecting tissue.

I suppose one could look upon hospitals as places of bodily recovery, but what about the drain upon the spirit and psyche? What about the long institutional halls, the harsh lighting, the shiny, buffed floors, the long white walls in the corridors? I can understand why so many people are desperate for alternative, non-Western medicine, for healing energy from stones, for herbal remedies, for cancer-fighting natural substances rather than toxic chemotherapy -- in short, for any palliative therapy that takes into account the whole body, mind and soul. One must struggle for some dignity in hospitals, helpless and obeisant, although the staff may be friendly and compassionate and competent. Often they aren't.

When I emerge once again into the bright sunlight of a still-summer day, and head back up Calhoun to work, I pass the crowds of students changing classes at the College of Charleston, walking along beautiful side streets, past magnificent live oaks, heading for their destinations. They seem so caught up in the self-important and dynamic surge of their youthful existences. They have seemingly inexhaustible time to spend at that most critical juncture between adolescence and adulthood.

Hospitals filling one end of the street, college and downtown the other. Reminders of our mortality. Reminders of our youth. I see the students as, understandably, free from all those matters which, at times like today, weigh so heavily upon me -- my own increasingly fragile grasp on life at this stage of the journey, and, consequently, a sense of urgency to live as much as possible in the present.

September 14, 1998

It's been wonderfully cool the past few days in Charleston, a real taste of autumn and unusually early and prolonged for this time of year. In fact, it seems much more like early October than September. Everyone has gotten a lift from this change in the weather, but heat is returning.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work in years past on community newspapers was the opportunity to write weekly columns, a reward to myself for editing hundreds fo press releases and turning out reams of news and feature copy. I'd like to post as addendums to my journal entries over the next week or so some of my favorite columns, along with some introductory comments. The ones that follow in the days ahead were written in 1991 while I was editor of a small weekly in South Carolina. The first, appropriately, is about this time of year:

Fall is in the Air

September is a special month, for many reasons.

There's that distinct change in the air. It becomes mercifully cooler. The sky has those first startling hints of autumn clearness. You feel it. You notice it. You can sense it everywhere.

For awhile around Labor Day we had a hint of fall, but then summer abruptly returned us to the land of heat and humidity. Nevertheless, late September is here -- truly a time between seasons. We can look forward to pleasant nights soon, those kinds of evenings when fans and air conditioners can be shut off and the night sounds of crickets can be heard more distinctly outside.

It's not always the most optimistic of months because there's the lingering feeling that carefree days of summer are just about to run their course. Also, in late August we have lasting associations from our youth of summer vacations ending and the approach of the new school year bearing down with all its new schedules, routines, courses. In other words, all the attendant anxieties affixed to those times of predictable, but significant, change in our lives.

However, in late August and the few few weeks of September, the formerly miserable heat of midsummer lessons imperceptibly, though surely and noticeably. With this change, we are free to venture out more often, whereas before we avoided the oppressive heat and humidity, except around sunset when the day cooled off a bit.

Because of all the rain, summer this year was rich with growth. No brown, dry lawns for the first time in years. The trees even seemed fuller and more shade-giving. Now, that's changing. The grass is hardly growing, the leaves are falling, and October is just around the corner. Henry David Thoreau has described this time of year thusly in his journal: "The year is ripened like a fruit but not yet of decay. There is not that profusion and consequent confusion of events which belongs to a summer's walk. There are few flowers, birds, insects, or fruits now, and hence what does occur affects us as more simple and abundant."

That is why, I see now, a late blooming, and, to me unexpected, day lily in the back yard, persisting past its optimum time of growth, is so special. Nature is not ready to give in yet. You can still go swimming, still cool off in air-conditioning, and keep winter at bay by pretending just a while longer that it's still summer.

Finally, though, has come one unmistakeable reminder of the approcahing end of summer -- the ever-shorter days and the quicker arrival of evening each day that passes. The words of "September Song" say it well: "Oh, it's a long, long while/From May to September/But the days grow short/When you reach September."

Let the nights get cool. Everyone's ready.

September 17, 1998

Two years ago on my road trip up to Ohio, I made a special stop at a place I'd long wanted to visit, Mount Airy, North Carolina. Situated in the northern part of the state near the Virginia border right in the upper foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this small town is the birthplace of Andy Griffith, and the community upon which he based the fictional Mayberry of his TV show in the sixties. It met and surpassed my expectations in every way. It seemed to epitimize what you'd consider the classic American small town to be like. A well-preserved Main Street, old neighborhoods and shaded streets, and a friendliness and bustle about the place that indicated this was one little town that was little only in size. I walked down Main Street on a Sunday afternoon, past Floyd's Barber Shop, the cafe Andy frequented, a bookstore, gift shops, clothing and shoe stores -- all probably much as they were in Griffith's childhood.

For kids of my generation, The Andy Griffifh Show was one of those sitcoms many of us will treasure and remember for years to come. That theme song with Opie and Andy ambling down the country road with their fishing poles is etched in my memory. So are all the characters. Not long after Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee, died in Siler City, N.C., I wrote this column for the newspaper I worked for at the time. It was 1991, and it was also a tribute to the show. I'm posting it here for readers of this journal:

Remembering Aunt Bee

Who could ever forget that voice -- slightly high-pitched, but tender and caring, as she fussed over what Andy and Opie were wearing when it was cold, whether they'd had enough to eat or wanted another piece of pie. Aunt Bee, from the Andy Griffith Show, was everyone's favorite aunt -- amiable, lovable, an institution in the mythical small Southern town of Mayberry.

Aunt Bee, who in real life was Frances Bavier, died last December at 86. After retiring from the show as matriarch of the Taylor household, and being a part of our lives during those turbulent years from 1960-68, Bavier retired to Siler City, N.C., and lived in relative obscurity. In her later years, although she was rather reclusive, she began to fall back into her Aunt Bee personna, even wearing her hair the same way it was on the show.

What scenes and memories she must have revisited over the years. Images of that wonderful cast of characters are engraved forever in televison's hall of fame: Sheriff Taylor and little Opie, who later became a movie actor and director; the inimitable Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts; Floyd the barber; Gomer Pyle; Cousin Goober: Helen Crump and Thelma Lou, Andy and Barney's girlfriends; Otis Cambell and Howard Sprague.

Mayberry was the kind of town in which we imagined good people lived ordinary lives and wise Sheriff Taylor, with the help of the ever-bumbling, mishap-prone Barney, outwitted crooks and maintained order. The townspeople of Mayberry had never heard of crack cocaine. Otis, the town drunk, wasn't such a comical character in retrospect, but we laughed at his antics, particularly when outmaneuvering Barney, even in his inebriated condition. We never saw or heard about the kind of crime and disruption so common in society today. Of course it was a bit unreal, but it was all just a TV show after all. In its time it filled a niche. The characters were a bit eccentric, the gossip was a trifle dull, and Floyd the barber always seemed to know everything that was going on, often getting his stories pretty badly mixed up.

I hadn't heard much about Aunt Bee over the years. She's the kind of television character who has lived on in reruns, a perptually 60ish, matronly woman with grey hair tied in a bun who is otherwise ageless in our eyes. Who could imagine Aunt Bee not bustling about in the kitchen or rushing out the door to have lunch with some of her friends....

Aunt Bee and Mayberry were symbols of another era when times weren't really all that good considering such realities as the cold War and Cuban missile crisis, racism and poverty. The world seems safer now that the Iron Curtain has been torn down, but here at home the rich get richer and the poor get pooer, so not that much has changed. We like to live comfortable illusiions, however, and most of the time they serve us pretty well except when some thing or person or event upends our comfortable sense of security. When that happens we can turn on the TV and watch an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Aunt Bee wipes away Opie's tears and makes the world right again.

For two good sources of information on Mount Airy and The Andy Griffith Show, see Collections and Recollections, A Tribute to Our Ancestry on This Our 100th Anniversary -- Mount Airy, N.C. 1885-1985 and Inside Mayberry: The Andy Griffith Show Handbookby Dan Harrison and Bill Habeeb.

September 20, 1998

Old, abandoned houses deep in the countryside have fascinated me for many years. Some of my first photographic forays out along the backroads beyond Columbia after I arrived there from New Orleans in 1973 were to explore and take pictures of the rural countryside. Sometimes I'd take my camera and go by myself, but on other occasions I'd go with a couple of friends I'd recently met who were also interested in such projects.

One such old house, probably only a pile of lumber and bricks now, if that, had a detached kitchen strewn with mortar, newspapers that lay in piles, and old magazines and household items left where they were last used when the owners abandoned the house. A wall calendar dated to the 1940s, and a stove was covered with dust and debris that had fallen from the ceiling. It was like stepping back in time. The weathered wood, sunlight coming through the empty window panes, and the silence of the surrounding woods, all combined to create the sensation of visiting a lost world from the past, this fragment remaining to remind me of a family's once bustling existence.

When I suddenly drove by a huge Victorian-era country home back in 1991, almost completely obscured by vines, and bushes and trees, I backed the car up and just marveled at the sight. It was still in fairly good condition, a once-magnificent home right next to a country crossroads, halfway between the nearest good-sized towns. In a newspaper column from the winter of that year, I tried to visualize the world once contained in that great old house:

This Christmas season I look closely at the picture I took one cloudy December morning recently and try to see not just a weathered ruin, ghostly and deserted, but the house in its finest days when the now huge oak trees wee a bit less imposing, but stately nevertheless, and brush and undergrowth didn't obscure the magnificent overhung outside porches and railings on both the first and second stories. On a cold Christmas day in 1910, holly and wreaths probably graced the doors and single candles may have illuminated the windows. Family came from miles around in horse and buggies for Christmas dinner in a festively decorated dining room. Fires crackled in fireplaces, providing warmth and cheer, and children rushed about showing off new toys, wagons, and clothes.

The house was, and still is, one of those impressive architectural landmarks that dotted the countryside decades ago. Nearby was a country store. The roads were unpaved, the countryside even quieter then with only the creaking of wagon wheels and the shouts and cries of children to break the silence. No airplanes flying overhead and no cars whizzing by on pavement. No modern conveneinces either, but a country doctor available for house calls and a pharmacist in the nearby town to fill prescriptions.

On Saturdays those many years ago, the dirt road that passed in front saw an incrased level of traffic as farmers made their way to market or perhaps headed off for longer day trips to Sumter. On rainy winter days when the roads were mud traps, the trips may have taken half a day. A grist mill nearby ground corn, and life proceeded according to a pace and schedule we'd consider quite slow today.

Maybe the house will yet be saved and restored. Then again, perhaps it will just gradually continue to weather away and disappear, and with it a visible reminder of the early years of this century. Gone, too, will be the tangible remains of the way of life of the families or individuals who lived there over the years...

September 24, 1998

The first real day of autumn. I stepped outside into an windy, brisk day that glowed with an autumn translucense. A day for walking and being outside. Glorious.

*****

The other day I checked out a great site on the Web called the International Lyrics Server (www.lyrics.ch) to find the words to a couple of songs I had been thinking about lately. This is an amazing site with more than 100,000 songs. I usually pay attention primarily to the music, not so much to the lyrics. At least that was the way it was when I was younger. Today, I'm more apt to consciously listen to the words of some of the old songs from the 60s and 70s I've heard so many times before. I don't know why other than the fact that I wonder why the songs had such an effect on me, or else wonder about some other significance they may or may not contain.

The two song lyrics I printed out are indicative, I think, of a certain beginning and end period in 60s music, not that these two song are singuarly remarkable to most people, but to me one of them certainly is. The two songs are "Let's Live for Today" by the Grassroots from about 1965 or so, and the other came at the end of that turbulent decade. Harry Nilsson's songs are iconoclastic, no doubt, and the subtle and lyrical phrasing of "Everybody's Talkin'" from the movie "Midnight Cowboy" has just always resonated with me.

The popular and rock music of 1965 was just starting to emerge from the hysteria of Beatlemania and the British invasion of '63 and '64. There was still a lot of silly, sappy stuff in the emerging rock scene -- dance songs, romantic ballads, a lot of mindless, harmless stuff that was just fun to listen to on the car radio or at the beach. The Grassroots had that certain something that just stood out a bit in the mid-sixties. "Let's Live for Today" had a mesage that today seems to reflect part of the whole Sixties stereotype, but at the time seemed mildly rebellious with a "cast your cares to the wind" kind of attitude. Here are the first lines of the song: "When I think of all the worries people seem to find/And how they're in a hurry to complicate their mind/By chasing after money and dreams that can't come true/I'm glad that we are different, we've better things to do/May others plan their future, I'm busy lovin' you (1,2,3)/"

Nilsson's song from "Midnight Cowboy" was, in my view, an anthem for another attitude prevalent in that decade. It spoke of freedom from the constraints of faceless crowds in busy, impersonal cities and escape to sunnier, happier places. Seeking after utopia amid all the madness of the later part of the decade when riots, assassinations, and racial upheaval menaced the status quo of middle America. Here are words from that song: "Ev'rybody's talkin' at me/I don't hear a word they're sayin'/Only the echoes of my mind/People stoppin' starin'/I can't see the faces/Only the shadows of their eyes/I'm goin where the sun keeps shinin'/Thru the pourin' rain/Goin' where the weather suits my clothes/Bankin' off of the northeast wind/Sailin' on a summer breeze/Skippin' over the ocean like a stone."


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