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Musical Serendipity at the Peace Vigil - nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
Musical Serendipity at the Peace Vigil

Denise and I were at the Peterborough Peace Vigil yesterday as usual. I was playing vaguely peace-related tunes on my pennywhistle, when a portly man about my age approached us and started discussing the diminishing likelihood that anything the Democrats do will get the US out of Iraq anytime in the next few decades.. He talked about how US troops are still in Germany and Korea, and Iraq bodes well to be just the same, about how oil was the underlying reason for the war.

 As we talked, it came out that he was a longtime Republican who had voted straight Democratic in the last election in hopes of actually changing things, and who planned to continue to vote Democratic, although he feared that the politics of the situation would keep US troops in Iraq indefinitely. One of my fellow vigilers reacted strongly to his pessimism, while I saw the fact that someone like this had taken the step of changing parties as a sign of real fundamental change in the politics of war, which might really lead to success in ending this one and keeping us out of future wars.

In the interest of getting away from the pessimism about politics, I asked if he knew the song I was playing. What he answered was a real surprise. He said he'd been in a band that had a number one hit song. I asked what the band's name was, and he answered, " The Strawberry Alarm Clock". Their one hit "Incense and Peppermints" was one that I had loved in the 'sixties, mainly because it seemed positive, had a shimmering quality to it, and its rhythm was perfect for bicycling across town.. I didn't know anything about the band, but I associated the song with all the wonders that were opening up at the time. This morning, I found a copy, downloaded it, and listened to it, probably for the first time in decades. It's not the kind of music I crave nowadays, but I admit it is a great song.

Probably nobody in the 'sixties even tried to figure out the lyrics, which are cryptic at best. They seem to point the way to an anti-political anti-intellectual  libertarian/Reaganesque philosophy of life at the same time they hint at a Trancendentalist way of viewing the world; they seem to advocate discarding all the tried-and-true formulas and finding something genuinely new within. The lyrics of the song, as transcribed (probably innaccurately by an anonymous netizen with better ears than mine are:

Good sense, innocence, cripplin' and kind.
Dead kings, many things I can't define.
Oh Cajun spice, sweats and blushers your mind.
Incense and peppermints, the color of thyme.

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothing to lose.

Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns.
Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around.
Look at yourself, look at yourself,
Yeah, yeah.
Look at yourself, look at yourself,
Yeah, yeah,
Yeah, yeah.

Tune-a by the cockeyed world in two.
Throw your pride to one side, It's the least you can do.
Beatniks and politics, nothing is new.
A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view.

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothing to lose.

Good sense, innocence, crippled and kind.
Dead kings and many things I can't define.
Oh Cajun spice, sweats and blushers your mind.
Incense and peppermints, the color of thyme.

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothing to lose.

Incense, peppermints, incense, peppermints.

Sha-la-la, sha-la-la....


All of us who have lived to sixty through the years of Vietnam, the Reagan era, and the Bush-Clinton maze have inevitably had complex, discontinuous lives. Some of us took detours into divergent political and spiritual realms where we couldn't help but grow by experience, and now we are seeing a convergence, where the idealism and unity that was present at the start of the journey (especially in the music) slowly becomes a practical reality. I think a pacifist politics will ultimately be born out of this convergence.

Anyway, the next visitor to our little vigil was Eric Blackmer, a consummate musician who is with the Peterborugh-based band "Full Cold Moon". By chance I had just written a blog about them and their upcoming concert in Fitzwilliam. Eric handed us a new-minted solo CD, and I've been listening to it. Even though the concert is in competition with my dearly-beloved song circle, I'm seriously thinking of attending it, especially if Eric is playing some of his new material. Here are the liner notes from the new CD:

Page 1, Liner Notes Eric Blackmenr

Page 2, Liner Notes, Eric Blackmer
Page 3, Liner Notes, Eric Blackmer
Page 4, Liner NOtes, Eric Blackmer

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Current Location: Greenville NH USA
Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
Current Music: Eric Blackmer, "Love Songs, Real Life ... and Strong Coffee"

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