I was stealing music.

I was looking for this version of "Urge For Going" by Tony Rice.  I’d never heard of Tony Rice.  And the guy who e-mailed me about it had never heard the version by Tom Rush!  So I fired up my P2P program and looked for it.

I wouldn’t buy it.  Why should I?  What were the odds of it being superior to Tom’s take?  Still, I wanted to hear it.  And I found it, along with covers of "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" and "Early Morning Rain".  Fascinating.

But what was even more fascinating was that someone with one of these MP3s had a SCREAMING connection.  So I opened his hard drive, and proceeded to take about sixty tracks.  Oh, I had more scheduled, it’s just that he logged off.

And there was fascinating shit.  Everything from Nazz to Sugarland.  But it lay forgotten on my PowerBook until I synched my machines yesterday.  And, in straightening out titles, playing snippets of each track, I heard "Angel", by Pure Prairie League.

You should not be allowed to air "Amie" without playing "Falling In And Out Of Love" before it, they meld into each other, the first segues into the second.

More than I could feel
You’re touching what is real
Oh my mind is reelin’ round
Caroline is feelin’ down today

Oh, when your partner is in a bad space.  And you can’t fix it.  You’re powerless, but you’re compassionate, you feel their pain.

"Falling In And Out Of Love" starts with some ethereal guitar picking, it’s slow, and quiet.  Craig Fuller sings the above lines.  And THEN!

Everybody speeds up just a bit, everybody locks into place, the vocal is no longer solo, there’s harmony of the type we fell in love with on Crosby, Stills & Nash records, but this isn’t saccharine, it doesn’t have an edge, it just evidences exactly what we feel inside.

Falling in and out of love with you
Falling in and out of love with you
Don’t know what I’m gonna do…’cause I keep
Falling in and out of love

I saw Al Franken on "Politically Incorrect".  Bill Maher lauded him for being married two decades.

After the applause died down, Al proceeded to say yes, he was in love, but between years sixteen and eighteen they HATED EACH OTHER!

That’s love, it’s about the commitment, and the hope during bad times you’ll rediscover each other.

"Amie" is more upbeat.  Maybe that’s why it’s the song you hear on the radio.  The singer is playing the John David Souther role.  Intelligent cowboy who did his woman wrong, but is admitting it, and leaving the decision up to his mate.

"Angel" isn’t quite as upbeat, isn’t quite as hopeful.

Oh, it’s about the love of a woman, one all-knowing, one who you know is going to leave you.  Maybe that’s why it sounds so WISTFUL!

The reason album rock exploded is because of the album TRACKS!  Songs that were not made for play on the radio, just in your bedroom.  Songs that weren’t made for everybody else, but just for you.  Oh sure, you wanted to hear the hits in concert, but you got butterflies in your stomach when they played YOUR favorite, the song YOU resonated with, that you felt no one else was aware of, that made you feel special, that got you through.

After going through the downloaded tracks, I clicked on "Angel" once again.  This was on "Bustin’ Out", wasn’t it?  That album I bought when I stopped being itinerant, when I finally had my own apartment and bought the stereo of my dreams?

It sounded familiar, but I didn’t completely know it.  I certainly hadn’t heard it in decades.

When you’re in your twenties, hope alternates with despair.  There’s too much of the latter, but the exuberance of the former keeps you searching, keeps you going.  But as you age, you suddenly realize this is your life.  You spend a lot of time looking behind.  What exactly were the choices that got you here?  Could you have ended up somewhere different if you’d been more aware, realized the importance of what you were doing?

Today in the L.A. "Times" I read the letter of a fifty year old to the advice columnist.  She was divorced, she had kids, she’d always seen sex as a means to an end.  Now, suddenly, she had discovered she LOVED sex.  She was doing it with multiple men, whom she didn’t want to marry…  Was there something WRONG with her?

I think it was Amy who said it was just fine, as long as she was upfront, as long as she used protection.

It’s not only twentysomethings who want to bring sexy back.  But we boomers, we’re trying to find what we missed.  Assuming we’re looking.  Too many aren’t, it would scare them.

I pity those people.  They’re the ones who pay $500 to see Madonna or the Stones, so they can tell their buddies they went.

But the rest of us, confronted with the confusion, we’re still looking for meaning from our music, not just spectacle.  We remember when a record could touch you, open your mind.

I’ve played "Angel" seventeen times so far.  I like the place it puts me.  In a bubble.  Where the rest of the world doesn’t intrude, where my mind isn’t clouded by its influences.  Where I’m not a pinball, but in control of the flippers.  Well, at least I know where the controls are.  "Angel" makes me relax and float downstream.  And when you do this, your mind isn’t turned off, but extremely open.  That’s when the good thoughts come in, when the questions appear, when the answers are revealed.

I believe everybody craves this experience.  Sure, they want to jump and be elated.  But life is really about reflection.  It’s a solitary journey.  Oh, we hope to be enmeshed in society, but still, the trip is our own.  How do we get through?  With music.

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