Rainbow Ends

Rainbow Ends – Spotify
Rainbow Ends – YouTube

This is the music Brian Wilson is trying to make but cannot.

In an infinite universe that which is not overhyped, that which is not on the pop chart, makes at most a drop in the ocean and then disappears.

But the truth is Emitt Rhodes’s new album is the most satisfying artistic project I’ve encountered all year.

It’s got the basics covered, the sounds, the changes, but it’s the words that put it over the top. Do you remember when you listened to music for insight? Back before platitudes reigned and “musicians” did their best to tell you how much better their lives were than yours?

Music used to be made by outsiders, who wouldn’t even want to hang at the club, they’d feel too uncomfortable. Their goal in playing was to connect, to lay down their truth and hope that someone heard it.

And we did. That’s why we clamored around the truth-sayers. From Bob Dylan to Laura Nyro to Emitt Rhodes.

But we were young back then, and optimistic, we hadn’t been hurt by life, which happens to us all. You can get plastic surgery, throw down some money and put a smile on your face, but that doesn’t cover the rejection, the sickness, all the detours and ditches that encompass life that you rarely hear about anymore in our winner take all society. Be vulnerable, say you have more questions than answers, and you’re thrown on the scrapheap and ignored, you’re done, there are zillions of bright-eyed kids lined up to take your place who still believe life is lived without reflection, who don’t know life is about eddies more than highways, that we all get waylaid, can’t be on all the time, forever.

I wanna be somewhere far away
Somewhere where I won’t be afraid

Paralysis. Scratch a baby boomer and you’ll find it. The single won’t go on match.com, never mind go on a date. They’re afraid they’re too imperfect, sans smooth skin, tight body and fat wallet. Better to stay home and watch TV.

I wanna be sheltered, safe and warm

It’s the men who are weak, they’re tired of putting up a good front, schmoozing and trying to get ahead. They want to be taken care of. Wanna win a man’s heart? Cover the potholes, guide him and soothe him when you’re alone together.

I wanna be somewhere far from home

That’s what we’ve lost in the global village, the ability to get away, we’re constantly checking our phones, to see if someone is looking for us, if we’re missing out, we’re sacrificing life to the screen. If only we could get away and live, away from the usual distractions.

I wanna be somewhere in the sun
Gettin’ tan, havin’ fun

Fun, it’s the one thing that money can’t buy, that we all want but rarely pursue, we’re too busy getting ahead.

I wanna be with the ones I love
Hold them close, give them hugs

So basic, so pedestrian, but so right. An artist can speak what we all feel and give it the ring of truth we rally around.

I wanna be loved no matter what
Not just a man ’til better starts

I’m not sure about that last word, I’m not sure I’ve got it right. Which is how it was back before the internet, before every album came with words. We’d get closer to the speakers, we’d put on headphones and try to decipher what the gods were saying, sometimes laboring under misimpressions for years.

But we’re all looking for acceptance, to be loved for who we are. But the truth is we have to adjust ourselves to be lovable, too many people refuse to do this, they maintain their rough edges and refuse to allow others in. But once you get over the hump, you want a pass, for the faux pas, for your basic identity, you want to be able to be who you are. It’s the main problem in each and every relationship… If you’re being yourself all the time, beware, your partner is not, you’re heading for a breakdown.

I wanna be someone’s only one
Not just a man ’til better comes

And there you have it. We all want to be number one. I’ve struggled with this. Oh, believe me, I want to be primary, but there comes a point in each and every relationship where I wonder if I am. And then I wonder if I’m defective, needy, too insecure. Or whether I’m divining the truth and deserve more. I don’t have the answer.

But I do know commitment is the essence of relationships, without it there’s nothing. A ring can help, but it’s far from definitive. People seem to be looking over their shoulder for something better, and if what they’re looking at is over your shoulder…

Always chasin’ rainbow ends
Head up in the clouds
Thought my dreams would never end
But my eyes they’re open now

How are you gonna feel about that tattoo twenty years from now?

What are you gonna do when you don’t get into the college of your choice?

What are you gonna do when you don’t make partner?

What are you gonna do when you get cancer?

What are you gonna do when your spouse leaves you?

It’s gonna happens, no one wins forever, no one tops the pop chart and plays stadiums until they die. Athletes retire. Musicians can no longer hit the notes. You can no longer finish a marathon, if you can run at all.

But culture doesn’t focus on these maladies. Worse, once you reach a certain age you’re discarded, you don’t even matter. At school they’re paying attention, limiting you. Then they tell you you can’t have an abortion. Then you hit menopause and are dry and your guy can’t get hard and you feel like you’re rolling downhill, fast.

What are you supposed to do?

You can go on a diet, exercise, pretend you’re twenty five, even cashier your significant other for someone much younger…but they don’t get the references, they don’t really get you.

Or you can put on Emitt Rhodes’s “Rainbow Ends” and uncover someone who’s been there and been thinking about it, and delivering it all via a mellifluous sound that gives you hope.

That’s what I get from the truth, honesty, changes and harmonies. The belief that life is worth living. Because there are people pulling themselves up and testifying about what life is really like, so I don’t feel so alone, so I can go on.

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