Screw you. I mean it. How did then become so inconsequential?
All I want is just the way it used to be.
Plaintive: from the French, plaintif (aggrieved, lamenting), plainte (lament, complaint); Adj: Sounding sorrowful, mournful or melancholic. Example: A Top Ten plaintive song from Bread, released in 1976, written by David Gates, “Lost without Your Love.”
Now, think about it. Rarely do we meet a stranger’s eyes on the street. Sure, there can be fear involved (significantly so for women and those who don’t “blend” in the neighborhood); but what if it’s because their faces are insidiously mesmerized by their mobile phones? So much so, just today I watched a woman with a stroller paying no attention to her baby as she walked a circular path while obsessively checking her phone every two to three seconds. Sure, the baby might have been napping. But you’re with your kid? Last night, a man approached a glass door at a restaurant we were leaving, walking at lightning speed staring into his #&^@%#$! contraption; he might have walked directly into the clear pane if I hadn’t have said something. Look up. peeps! Smile at someone. Be in the world. Say hello for sake’s sake.
Walk on now and don’t be shy
Take a closer look at the people you meet
And notice the fear in their eyes
Watching the time passing by
– “Hey, Big Brother” (Rare Earth, 1972)
Now, Planet Earth has seen our promises; then we slip into “patterns of what happened before.” I’m as guilty as anyone and I own that. They taught us the dream of Earth Day. Zero Population Growth. Alternative energy. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock! A generation that would not fold into itself at the beck and call of family responsibilities, taking over a family business, surrendering to the almighty dollar. No, we were going to change the world.
You’ve seen it all pass by your door
So many times I said I been changin’
Then slipped into patterns of what happened before
– “Hey Tomorrow” (Jim Croce, 1972)
Now, that’s the sound of both literal and metaphorical abysmal failure. For every dynamic planet protector from Greenpeace to Sierra Club, to field biologists and park rangers, to teachers and professors, think tanks and countless NGOs, climate change will destroy us. We’ve made the bed, we’re still sleeping in it, and the nightmares will continue to wake us in the middle of the night fleeing wildfires, lava, floods, hurricanes, twisters, or have us languishing in droughts, plagues, undeterred disease mutations, deadly frigid temperatures and excessive heat, where, if they had a voice, too many infants in too many poor countries would never ask to be born into such a world.
Now, in my younger days, I protested nuclear submarine stations, dug hundreds of postholes helping build the basecamp for the initial protest at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, (built on a major earthquake fault), and stuffed rally flyers into envelopes while standing next to Jackson Browne trying to act all cool. Over the years I’ve written letters to government officials, attended town hall meetings, and at my first national election polling place I marked Jimmy Carter (second term). We know how that turned out and I have been mainly on the wrong side of the ballot since then. No, I never got bashed in the head at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Too young for Vietnam, I matured quickly trying to wrap my nine-year-old brain why our boys were being flown back in flag-covered coffins to stop something called the “Domino Theory?” Looked simply like stupid leaders unable to say “I give” and call it a day. I was in fifth grade when students were gunned down at Kent State University for protesting. Then, there was Nicaragua, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, Taliban, and ISIS. Am I alone in this or do men just like to play war? Or did we, as Neil suggests, turn on then tune out?
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you’re gone, you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black
-“My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” (Neil Young, 1979)
Now, “with me there’s no regret.” BTO rose to stardom by the mid-1970s with their signature style of bright guitar-driven ear candy. But that one line caught my eye. Are they establishing that having a vast audience to incite them to take action is “coming full circle?” Or did hitting the big time mean leave the grunt work of saving the planet to others, toiling on ships blocking harpoons or chaining themselves to gates at the entrances of toxic facilities? You decide.
It’s alright, with me there’s no regret
It’s my turn, the circle game has brought me here
And I won’t let down ‘til every song is set
You realize now
You should have tried now, ooh
The music’s gone now
You lost it somehow
-“Hey You” (Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1975)
Now, let’s take five. Something about longing for the only cure for our predicament. How many of you, like me, melted on the dance floor to this song?
Let me make your lonely heart like new
Hey there, lonely girl
Don’t you know this lonely boy loves you
Don’t you know this lonely boy loves you
-“Hey There Lonely Girl” (Eddie Holman, 1970)
Now, if these days are giving you the blues, this musician made the 1-4-5 progression sound like country, jam and jazz. Let this hey song lift your spirits and distract you from MSNBC’s daily doom and gloom:
Hey baby, you made it somehow
Don’t let nobody come and bring you down
-“Hey, Baby” (J.J. Cale, 1976)
Now, I would be ignoring the man who sang “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” the first Number One Single of the 1970s, if I didn’t include this classic crossover (record-breaking) country rock theme:
So sad that it makes everybody cry
A real hurtin’ song about a love that’s gone wrong
“Cause I don’t wanna cry all alone
-“(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” (B.J. Thomas, 1975)
Hey, Now, let’s get to it: I present the best song that begins with that three-letter-word, with such minor meaning, yet, an attention-grabber when people are listening. Washington, D.C. wonks love to say, LOOK as they begin their orations. Doesn’t that just grill you? “Hey” is a kinder, gentler word with a thousand points of light. (This is supposed to be a snarky post!) I was in the kiss-ass machinations of studying to become an innovative teacher. Smack-dab in the middle of my low-on-the-totem-pole teaching assistant internship in an elementary school in Olympia, Washington, where the teacher took one look at my Joe Walsh-like hair and must’ve feared for her fourth-graders’ souls, Pink Floyd had just released The Wall. “We don’t need no education?” “Hey, teacher leave us kids alone!” Gee, thanks.
Now, all I wanted was to change the world but the British music icons made my future profession seriously uncool. Okay, so they were singing about England (I think), but California’s education system had taken a dive since Prop 13’s victory a few years prior. On its heels, a conservative swing, those who wanted to not be taxed over helping out schools, then an actor is elected to the White House; those good old days were truly becoming a then.
Now . . . how about the irony of this LP’s title and what currently must be built to appease the red-haired Russian puppet and to keep out people from Mexico? Riddle me this, POTUS: Who would clean up after your shit in your toilet if there weren’t people willing to do that work? Ask how many white people—even if it came to those who like to drink beer and assault women—would apply for a job where it required them to embrace the honor of scrubbing your golden throne?
So, then, we’ll ride out with track one, side three, written by the oh-so-talented Roger Waters.
Out there on the road
Always doing what you’re told
Can you help me?
Out there beyond the wall
Breaking bottles in the hall
Can you help me?
Don’t tell me there’s no hope at all.
Together we stand,
Divided we fall–
“Hey You” (Pink Floyd, 1979)