Long Road Out Of Eden


I first heard about Vietnam during a camping trip. Not long after the sun set, in that eerie window before complete darkness, Marshall Drazen told me there was a war going on, in a country I’d never heard of, far across the Pacific Ocean.

I didn’t believe him. There weren’t supposed to be any more wars. Korea was the last hurrah, an afterthought, a coda to WWII, the scariest war of all time, when Hitler did his best to eradicate my people. But Marshall insisted. And when I returned home at the end of the summer, I found out it was true.

But it wasn’t that big a deal. After all, we were the United States, we could crush ANYBODY!

But we just couldn’t defeat the North Vietnamese.

Well, how could we. They were backed by the Chinese. Those millions of people we would connect with if we just dug a hole deep enough. But they wouldn’t be friendly, you see China was COMMUNIST! And Commies were the enemy. We had to make a stand. You’d heard of the DOMINO THEORY, hadn’t you?

Soon we were pretty familiar with it. As the war that wasn’t a war raged on endlessly, with Walter Cronkite reciting a nightly body count and Barry McGuire on the radio telling us we were on the "Eve Of Destruction". Our charming little fifties lives, enriched by seemingly endless dollars, affording us Hula-Hoops and summer camp, were suddenly in JEOPARDY! We might DIE!

I couldn’t die. I hadn’t yet LIVED!

Still, the war slogged on. We were sick of talking about it. But there was no end in sight. My generation started to freak out. We took to the streets. And while there, at our rallies, during our demonstrations, there was music, always music, supporting us, giving us strength. It was us versus the man. And it was no contest, because they might have had Frank, but we had rock and roll. Everybody from the Beatles to the Doors to Dylan and the Airplane.

Still, being right isn’t everything. By time I turned eighteen, seven years after that conversation with Marshall Drazen, we were still fighting in Vietnam. And it was my turn to get my ass shot off.

I’m still not grown up. I still feel like I’m a couple of years and a couple of changes behind everybody. But the government did the math. And I needed to register for the draft. I needed to be classified. Would I be as lucky as Arlo Guthrie? Get out of service by accident?

I didn’t think so. And neither did my dad. It was my mother who was virulently anti-war, I don’t remember my father ever uttering a word about the conflict. But right after my birthday, he took me to an office in downtown Bridgeport, for a legal consultation, to find out HOW I WAS GOING TO GET OUT!


My draft number was 264. I didn’t have to go. But not everybody was so lucky. My friend who got a C.O. worked in a hospital and got hepatitis. Maybe he only lost his ability to drink, but WHY? Why did these old white men do this to us? Who WAS the enemy?

We’re still wondering. Are the Iraqis our enemy? How about those who live in Iran? Is everybody of a different faith out to get us? We live in a Christian country, don’t we?

That doesn’t feel too good. I’m not a Christian.

We’re just as divided as we ever were. It’s just that you don’t see it. Or if you do, it’s not acknowledged. What’s up with all those homeless people on the street? If we can fight a war thousands of miles away, can’t we do something about this problem at home? How about health care for the uninsured? How come the rich get richer and all the poor are left with is a dream?

You don’t want to DIE, do you?

But are the people in Oklahoma at risk? How about Wyoming? Texas? Is that really where we’re going to be attacked? Don’t they want to hit the cities? But those in the cities are effete intellectual snobs.

Who’s gonna make sense of this? Who’s gonna speak the truth?

That’s what we count on artists for. But the artists are just as bad as those old white men running the government. They’re whored out to the same companies, the corporations that really rule the world. They’ve got sponsors. They’ve got to feed their families. They can’t afford to alienate anyone.

So there are clowns to the left of us. And I’d like to say jokers to the right. But the hoi polloi is just watching reality TV and getting high, dreaming of partying with Lindsay, wondering when Britney’s gonna die.


I didn’t get a stereo until the end of 1967, for Hanukkah. Before that, I listened on record players. All-in-one boxes, with heavy tonearms, that often required dimes, pennies, nickels, even QUARTERS to track records. But with my stereo, came headphones. And my greatest joy was to lie on the floor in the dark and listen.

I’d graduated from the Yankee games on my transistor. AM no longer seemed to matter. Everything was happening on the FM dial. Where the deejays spoke softly and slowly, and played music you heard nowhere else. The tunes weren’t constrained by rules. The Clive of yore wasn’t clamoring for choruses, the only beats we heard were pounded out on the big bass drums of Ginger Baker and Keith Moon.

Not that everybody was listening. That was the dividing line.

But by time the seventies hit, everybody was tuned in. The FM dial was the source of all the information we needed. Radio was our outlet. We owned it. And radio gave us back riches. Like "The End" and "Stairway To Heaven". Epics that were constrained by no limits.

But we haven’t had that spirit here since 1993.

That’s when I remember hearing "Rooster" on the radio.

They don’t play ten minute tracks on AM radio. And today’s FM just plays the same damn oldies, the songs of a PRIOR generation. Oh, there are a few Active Rock and Alternative stations. But they’re far from the mainstream, they’re the sideshow. Not that anybody’s listening. Is anybody listening? Does anybody remember LAUGHTER?


Moon shining down through the palms
Shadows moving on the sand
Somebody whispering the Twenty-Third Psalm
Dusty rifle in his trembling hands

As you’re reading this, there are men and women on patrol in Iraq. They’re freaked out, they’re afraid of dying. We’re shopping and going to the movies. It’s not our problem. They volunteered. Tough luck.

But why did they volunteer? Could they not find any other job? Did they need the money for college? And if this war spreads any wider, to Iran or Pakistan, there aren’t gonna be enough enlistees, no way. If you’re under the age of thirty, maybe you’ll have to go.

But neither party wants to institute a draft. They want to keep you somnambulant, have you believe they’ve got it under control, that they’re taking care of you. The Republicans have scared you into submission. And the Democrats are such ineffective whiners you almost don’t want to vote for them. And both parties are beholden to the same entities the artists are. There’s a man. Bigger than Bush. You might think he’s an American, but it’s not even a he, but a multinational, untouchable company, paying no taxes.


The first track on the second disc of the new Eagles album is a ten minute epic. You won’t hear it on the radio. Certainly not during the morning, when the zoo is open for business and the animals are out. And not during drive time, when the commercials need to be squeezed in. And the band is neither fish nor fowl, neither pop nor country. There’s nowhere for them to fit.

And those stereos we bought back then. They’ve been replaced by home theatres. We’ve got all the porn we can eat on our computer screens, but we listen via tiny little speakers. The old temples of worship are long gone. Those rooms with giant JBLs, ready to blow your hair back like in that Maxell ad.

And you wonder why we’re in shit shape. We’ve lost our infrastructure, we can’t even decipher the tablets handed down to us.

You can go to an Eagles show and relive the seventies. But they were never about live. The Eagles were about records. Home, at a friend’s house, as a friend rolled a joint in an album cover and the music came pouring out of the speakers. One of these nights, that’s for sure.

This isn’t about the cult of celebrity. This isn’t about whether you approve of Don Henley. This is about whether you BELIEVE! In the power of music, in brotherhood. Or are you just out for yourself, living in a gated community, keeping the riff-raff out? Is it somebody else’s problem, or yours?

I can tell you, it’s OURS!

Those are the questions. I’d like to tell you I have the answers. I don’t. But the questions came to my brain while I was listening to the title track of the new Eagles album. The music set my mind free. It didn’t make me dance. Didn’t only make me think about my libido. It made me ponder this fucked up world we live in.

Don’t tell me our hands are tied.

Don’t tell me you can’t care.

Don’t tell me about major labels.

I don’t give a shit what Rapino thinks, Barry Diller either.

Doug Morris can kiss my fucking ass. Jimmy Iovine can follow the dollar off into the sunset for all I care.

It’s not about any of these fucks. It’s about the musicians. And one good thing about this post-Napster era is the bands are now free to follow their own muse, do it their own way. Maybe we can get back to where we once belonged.

Or do you have to lose a loved one. Or your house. Or your pension. What has to happen for you to be motivated?

Sure, musicians need to get paid. But if that’s why they’re doing it, the music sucks. Art is a higher calling. Don’t listen to the President, listen to the records. Find someone who’s saying something. Tune in, and drop in.

Start with "Long Road To Eden". You’ll hear the darkness and despair. It’ll motivate you to DO SOMETHING!

We’re all in this together. It’s about time everybody realized this. My generation stopped a war. We have the power. And with the music alongside us, we’re UNBEATABLE!

Weaving down the American highway
Through the litter and the wreckage and the cultural junk
Bloated with entitlement; loaded on propaganda
And now we’re driving dazed and drunk
Been down the road to Damascus, the road to Mandalay
Met the ghost of Caesar on the Appian Way
He said, ‘It’s hard to stop this bingeing, once you get a taste’
‘But the road to empire is a bloody, stupid waste’
Behold the bitten apple – the power of the tools
But all the knowledge in the world is of no use to fools
And it’s a long road out of Eden

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