Saturday, June 13, 2009

Listening Session: Donovan, Fairy Tale

This morning I needed to listen to a Donovan album. It's been a rough week for the forces of peace, love and understanding, with the terrorist attack on the Holocaust Museum by a Neo-Nazi and the fraudulent re-election of Ahmedinejad in Iran. The von Brunn story reminded me that there are people in this world who's very existence is defined by who or what they are against. Von Brunn, with his hatred of Jews and blacks that consumed his life, is an extreme example, but this psychology also defines American neo-conservatives and Republicans. For the neo-cons, after the Cold War, it's a war with Islamic extremists, who tragically share the same psychological affliction, that keeps their blood flowing. The same existential psychology also pervades Republican rhetoric as they need to demonize Democrats as anti-American and Obama as a Muslim-sympathizer in order to define themselves.  I think Obama has been trying to move the general public away from this way of thinking, as he constantly beseeches us to look for common ground instead of emphasizing our differences.

The Donovan album I pulled from the shelf is Fairy Tale, an early album from 1965. It opens with a cover of the Buffy St. Marie's anti-war song "Universal Soldier". The song could describe American neo-cons, Islamist extremists and other groups who perpetuate conflict. The rest of the album consists of simple, pretty ruminations on life, with titles like "To Try for the Sun", "Colours", "Ballad of Geraldine", and "Reflections on a Sunny Day". The last song describes the pattern of light on a cat sleeping in the sun. The music and lyrics are innocent and beautiful. It's not profound, but it's still poetry. That's the elixir I needed this morning after feeling overwhelmed by the cynicism and the ugliness of world events. Is Donovan peddling a "fairy tale" vision of the world? Perhaps, if you believe his hippie world view to the exclusion of other views. But this is what I believe: Donovan's vision is just as real as that of the universal soldiers. Today, I'm living in Donovan's reality. It's nice, but I'm not sure how long I can stay.

No comments:

Post a Comment