Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's all right, it's all right, it's all right

Eric Clapton posted this on his Facebook page 7/31/13.  He and JJ Cale live playing "After Midnight" Awesome!

The day after JJ Cale died seemed the perfect one to go for a long, contemplative, aimless drive.  Loaded all the Cale and Clapton onto the iPhone and headed out, not sure where I was going, but with the idea of going up one street in town that I have always wondered what was up there.

Looking up into that pass, it's just around that next ridge. Maybe.
Turns out, nothing really, houses and more houses and the street eventually ended in a T. I took the left option and ended up on the highway, but a sign there offered the perfect destination: Hatcher Pass.  For those who don't know the area it is a low pass in the Talkeetna Mountains between Palmer and Willow, though a little north of both.  Buildings from an old mine still stand near the summit and it's a popular skiing place in winter.  But, this day all leafed out in green it seem the perfect venue for a little introspection.

So far, except for those who died unexpectedly, JJ Cale is the rock performer closest to the music that has been close to me for most of my life. That and we are also connected through two other favorites, Eric Clapton and Leon Russell.  Years ago I ran a boat for a couple of summers that only had an 8-track player. Knowing I wouldn't be using them anywhere but on the boat I only bought a handful of 8-tracks.  JJ Cale was one of them.

The shroud masks a flag
at Hatcher Pass Lodge.
So with Cale and sometimes Clapton rocking the Jeep we headed up the narrow road to the pass. 

Clouds obscured the high peaks with shrouds of funereal whitish gray above the myriad shades of green on their slopes, interrupted only by splashes of pink-purple fireweed.  The Little Susitna River rushed seaward along side the road, swollen by recent hard rains.

At one pullout, Anchorage Gen-Yers in their Tour de France clothing unloaded bicycles from their Subarus.  I thought more of the early prospectors who must have hauled their gear up this trail on their backs, perhaps with horses, maybe dog teams or, later, with machinery.  And, too the Natives who crossed this pass long before those miners. Doubt any of them would have thought much of spandex bicycle shorts and aerodynamic  plastic helmets.

Farther on a young mother dressed more like we'd expected an Alaskan to, was lifting bicycles out of her pickup truck for herself and her two small children.  That was more like it.
As the road grew steeper, I stopped at a pullout to try for a picture that would illustrate what the pass was and in that parking lot a couple had unloaded and saddled two horses and were preparing to ride somewhere.  That felt more comfortable too.

The curvy road continued its steep rise into the pass until I entered the shrouds, only gray and the brush close to the road visible, climbing into the clouds. Just in time for Clapton and Cale to swing into "Danger:"

Danger she's out into the night
Danger she's such a pretty sight
Danger she's out with you tonight
Danger she such a pretty sight
--JJ Cale. "Danger"
The Little Su flows out under the shroud.

In the clouds the air turned noticeably cooler as well, a deathly chill adding to the atmosphere of mourning, the shroud hanging like the black bunting at a funeral, an armband only one that tried to smother everything.

At a high turnout I stopped and faced the Jeep where I could see down the valley once in a while as the cloud passed by sometimes opening up the view.  It seemed a good place to think about things.  The Little Su roared down the mountain somewhere off to the right, again every imaginable shade of green lit up when the shrouds allowed a little bit of light to intrude into the atmosphere. I sat on the hood of the Jeep, now listening to "Don't Cry Sister:"

Don’t cry sister cry, it’ll be alright in the morning
Don’t cry sister cry, everything will be just fine
Don’t cry sister cry, it’ll be alright, I tell you no lie
Don’t cry sister cry, don’t do it, don’t do it

-- JJ Cale, "Don't Cry Sister"

The road down.
No tears, though, warm memories of times when there was Cale music.  I remember we made up new words for "Cocaine."  All that comes to mind now is "Propane, it'll take what you got, and sure make it hot, Propane."  A love interest on that 8-track boat and sitting together with a jug of wine lost in the music. And so many Clapton versions of his songs, "After Midnight," "Cocaine." Cale wrote Lynyrd Skynyrd's hit “Breeze.”

Well, they call me the breeze
I keep rollin' down the road
Yeah, they call me the breeze
I keep rollin' down the road
I ain't got me nobody
I ain't carry no heavy load

JJ Cale, "They Call Me the Breeze"

The Little Su lower in the pass with a head of steam.
Those rock musicians from my day, at least the ones who didn't die early, unnatural deaths, are aging into their seventies now.  Cale was 74 when he died.  Mick Jagger turned 70 the day before, Paul McCartney is 71, as I will be in a couple of months. Keith Richards has been 70 since he was 30. Clapton is 68. So many out there, All those great musicians from the 60s, so, more of this is going to happen and we might as well get ready for it.  JJ Cale is the first major one in my life, again not counting those too early tragic deaths.

I sat on the Jeep hood listening for a while, the chill dew of the cloud cooling and moistening my face while the music filled my head.  In time I took the camera over to the edge and snapped a picture of the river tumbling down through the valley. Somehow a river belonged in this reverie like the clouds, the mountains, the music and I felt fulfilled and refreshed, I started up and began the long drive down off the mountain, having taken care of the melancholy brought on by the death of someone who feels like he was a friend.  Rest easy, my friend, your music will carry on.
The photo is by Tony Gutierrez of the Associated Press. I
might have to take it down at some point, but for now it
seems the perfect portrait.

Floatin' down that old river boy, all my worries far behind,
Floatin' down that old river boy, leave old memories way behind,
Yesterday is slowly fadin',
I been waitin', now forever, for this ride

JJ Cale, "Ride the River"

Sun shines where I'm going home.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I am willing to admit I may not have listened to these songs - or did without knowing it - what you wrote made me realize I should have. A beautiful eulogy.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve