NOT LISTENING

by Tim Baker


For better or worse, a large portion of my awareness came from rock and roll.

Of all the things I’ve loved about rock and roll since childhood, I think the constant effort to raise the collective consciousness tops the chart.

Sure there are plenty of sappy love songs, horrible dance music and hormone inspired euphemisms, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve always had a special respect for those songs that say something more than I wanna hold your hand.

In my youth I wasn’t the kind of guy to watch the news, pay attention to politics or wonder what sort of injustices were happening down the street or around the world.

I was too young to appreciate the power of Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction when it was released, but it’s a little eerie that the lyrics still resonate today…

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for eight days in space,
But when your return, it's the same old place,
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Combine those thoughts with Edwin Starr’s simple call-and-response…

War!
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing!

…and you have to wonder where the disconnect was. Eve of Destruction was released in 1965, War in 1970. In 1971 Marvin Gaye tried again…

We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate

Six years after that Jackson Browne reflected on it…

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring.
Were they only the fitful dream
Of some greater awakening?

So what ever did happen to those ideals?

In my youth I saw conspiracies behind every tree, but as I got older I tried to ignore those sorts of thoughts. I tried to silence the I hope I die before I get old mentality, but it’s not easy.

Recently I fell asleep with the TV on and woke up to the late night news. A steady stream of sound-byte headlines invaded my subconscious and by the time I was fully awake I was disgusted with the way journalism has been kidnapped, raped and buried alive in this country. Reporters don’t report on the news anymore. What we have now is a bunch of talking heads (apologies to David Byrne, et al) telling us what they want us to believe – as predicted by Don Henley…

You don't really need to find out
What's going on
You don't really want to know
Just how far it's gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry

Media manipulation conspiracies are the most far-fetched…right?

There’s a company that owns more than 1,200 radio stations in this country. After 9-11 they created a list of 165 songs with, what they deemed, “questionable lyrics”. Eve of Destruction and War are both on it. The list was distributed to the company-owned radio stations ostensibly as a suggestion, not as a ban.

Why would a media outlet attempt to discourage radio stations from playing some of the best songs in history?

I know – far-fetched.

So here I am, on the downhill side of fifty and the kid I thought I had left behind is making a comeback, and given the current state of affairs in the world, he’s wondering what the hell happened?

We had so many artists (I’m talking about music, but there were just as many in TV, books and movies) trying to warn us…from Woody Guthrie to Pink…it’s not like we didn’t have ample opportunity to learn.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

For decades we’ve been hearing some of the most talented musicians in history telling us to take better care of each other…

…apparently we haven’t been listening.


And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?

Tim is an author at Blindoggbooks as well as a DJ at Surf 97.3 in Flagler Beach, FL.