I came across this quote today:
“Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs—anybody can have that—I mean in truth. That’s what I write. What it really is like. I’m just telling a very simple story.” (Maya Angelou)
Which reminded me of this:
“You gotta go through it to get to it…” (Bobby Womack)
Both lived lives of adversity. Both passed recently and for some reason I have found myself deeply saddened. So being who I am, I want to know why.
One, I love for her tenacity and boldness. She was who she was and didn’t care who knew it. The other, I love for his gritty, bluesy voice and that he, too, had tenacity and boldness to follow his own style.
In the seventies, at age 15, I got out from under a life of ugliness and dogma and began a journey of discovery. The world was not anything like what I had been taught to believe. There was more than old time white Christian and country music out there. There was rock & roll, old spirituals, deep and gritty rhythm and blues. There was drugs and carnies and hitch hiking and weird drivers who wanted to buy your dirty socks. I embraced a freedom I had never known and lived it with relish. I was follower of no one, living day to day, sometimes a bed to sleep in, most times not. My backpack and fellow carnies were my best friends.
When my daughter was born in 1980, the song I crooned to her was “Close to You”. Not the sweet frilly Carpenter’s one but the gritty soulful Bobby Womack one. The one that would tell her that there is more to life than fluff and happiness. The one that would let her know that no matter what, she would have something I hadn’t had, deep, tenacious love that would span all of our existence.
So as I’m looking at these two people wondering why I miss them as living beings on this earth, I am understanding that we are very much alike. Their music and poetry speak of life’s grittiness. Of the deep down blues that come over us sometimes. Of the desire and boldness to experiment with things that dull pain or savor an unquenchable thirst for more of something we can’t define.
I realize that while I love all music, I have a soul desire to listen to old time rhythm & blues, old jazz, the sax, the stuff that either makes you want to cry or stomp your feet and dance to whatever is speaking to your soul. I want to grow up embracing the cost, the grittiness. I want to get to it.
He starts at about 4:36, I suggest listening to it all. He speaks from his soul.