It’s been a full two months since my last entry, so it’s high time to get back into the swing of things. As such, I’ll start with something light: a lost song that found its way back after two decades of being MIA.
Songs from long ago have a way of creeping back into conscious thought if I sit still and sit silently long enough. Enter the road trip. A perfect opportunity to turn off and tune in, as it were. Last month it was twelve hours to D.C. and twelve hours back, and while podcasts by Marc Maron and Terry Gross are my favorite way to kill time on the highway, I find that after three or four hours I need a respite. No music. No interviews. No dialogue with the family. Just silence.
During these moments I find that can do a number of things. One, create. I’ve written many songs when I allow myself to just…be. Two, plan and worry. I go through lists of things I need to do, should have done, ought to do. Three, completely zone out. When I do this, the subconscious seeps through the little crevices of conscious thought, and all of the sudden I’m mentally singing a song I haven’t thought of in twenty-two years.
Chrissie Hynde begins singing a phrase of unintelligible lyrics and then more forcefully sings the line:
“The state of independence shall be.”
I think, what the hell is that? I recall hearing it regularly on The Cities 97 in Minneapolis back in 1993, right around the time I started dating my future wife, and it sounded similar to another song from around that period: “Protection” from Massive Attack, which my subconscious happily resurrected a few years back.
Enter the Internet search. And this is where things get kind of interesting if you’re a music geek.
The song in the form I remember is by a duo called Moodswings, who in 1992 released their debut album featuring a song sung by Chrissie Hynde called “Spiritual High (State of Independence)”. I’ve since learned that this song is actually included on The Pretenders’ Greatest Hits album (which is kind of lame, if you ask me), but I knew nothing about this.
But the song’s origins go back to 1981, when former lead singer of Yes, Jon Anderson, teamed up with Vangelis (the same year that Vangelis’s Chariots of Fire theme became an unexpected and ubiquitous radio hit) to release their second album, The Friends of Mr. Cairo. I was familiar with the title track, as on a Sunday night in September of 1982 I listened to Jon Anderson’s solo concert on the King Biscuit Flower Hour on WQFM, Milwaukee. Hell, I still have the recording I made of the show on cassette! The show featured several tracks from his very solid album, Animation, a bunch of Yes songs, and the one tune from his collaboration with Vangelis.
I never purchased any Jon and Vangelis record, but on the aforementioned album is a tune called “State of Independence,” a lengthy piece that somehow got to the desk of Quincy Jones, who in 1982 produced a version of the song for Donna Summer’s eponymous album. And lo and behold, it was a modest hit in Europe. How the hell did Quincy Jones come upon a song by a couple of prog-rockers? No clue.
An open and empty mind can do amazing things, and I suspect a good portion of my latter years will be me sitting in a comfy chair and my mind playing a crazy shuffle of songs I lost track of long ago.
Or maybe I’ll just worry. Could go either way.