Thursday, May 9, 2013

SOTW - May 10, 2013 - Wayside


  [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] 
a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life . . . a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

Was it really so good "back then?" Does our memory place a sheen on the past that obscures the bad? Try or not, we humans constantly assimilate knowledge, understanding, and experience; how would those transpose onto a fondly-recalled past if we re-lived it? Were the Good Ol' Days really so blissful? I say "yes," but not for the reason you might think. It was no better then than it was now, only new. What is new and different is stimulating, and stimulation breeds joy. But, if we have our eyes open, if we are paying Attention, then we are always learning and seeing something new. It happens every day. The past may have been good, but it's the past. Nostalgia, which is longing for "back then" (or the feeling that the past is better than today), is counter-productive because it obscures the glory of the present.  

Not that Gillian Welch agrees with any of this, at least not based on her dusty-box-in-the-attic classic (and your Song of the Week for May 10, 2013), "Wayside (Back in Time). This crackling campfire bit of mood folk represents the purest form of nostalgia; not only fond recollection, but the desire to actually go backwards in time. (All to get back to a drunk lover and an apparently unproductive relationship). Wistful and longing in theme, the song embraces the listener from the first soothing ripple of B-3 in the intro. Productive or not, if Gil' is selling nostalgia, I'm buying. 

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