“There’s an omen in the sky today”
Keep on sailing. I have a dear friend who utilizes this phrase quite often. Without getting into her personal reasons for using the phrase it is a useful mantra to proclaim at times. You may never have experienced sailing before in real life, but the phrase lets you drift away on some imaginary calm sea in your mind. Which is a great place to visit in this hectic life of ours. It also is the title of one of my favorite songs by Iain Matthews, about whom more in a minute.
I say it is useful because it seems in this often chaotic world we live in there is a desire to shut down at times, which is something I have written about before on these pages. But quite often we can’t. Work deadlines, news headlines, higher prices, longer commutes, technology saturation and all the other aggravations that seem to bombard us on a daily level seem to be increasingly hard to get away from now. Sure there are people that seem to thrive on that sort of life, but I do not count myself as one of them. But for me, the other side of that is that by the same token, I do not wish to live on some speck of an island in the ocean, or way out in the sticks surrounded by nothing but pure silence to ‘get away from it all’. Both are a nice place to visit for a short time but I could not do it for the long haul personally.
Which is why I seek so much solace in music. It hits every range on the emotional scale. Want to crack open a beer, kick back in the chair on a sunny day and chill? Listen to some reggae and feel the relaxation seep in. Want to work out some aggression at the gym? Throw on some metal or hard rock and thrash about. Having a lazy rainy day sort of moment? Throw on some jazz or something equally soothing and gaze out the window as the rain falls. I have done them all. But sometimes I need to find quick fixes. Fleeting moments where I need to know things are okay. Days when you feel the world closing in on you for one reason or another like those worst day of your life sort of days. You know the ones. Days when it is pouring down rain and you are running a few minutes late leaving for work, and the trash bag you are carrying out to the curb breaks and spills its contents everywhere as your umbrella gets sacrificed to a sudden gust of wind and the train car you are riding in is packed in so tight you can barely breath, and then when you get to work you find out everything you worked on the day before has to be redone. That sort of day.
“And I saw the thunder, it fell down on my way home”
So that is why quite often, when I am having those kind of days where the world is closing in on me, I reach for the Ipod and put some music on. There are several songs that can do the trick for me, but most recently when I have those sorts of days (don’t worry, they do not happen too often) Keep On Sailing has been my primary “go-to” song. The opening chords set a soothing sort of mood before those gentle country music licks kick in as Iain sings the opening lines. As a side note this song is interesting in that Iain recorded it on the Valley Hi album in 1973 and then re-recorded it a year later for the Some Days You Eat The Bear album, which is where this version comes from. No matter which version you prefer, it has that 70’s laid back country vibe that was so popular at that time with bands like the Eagles, Pure Prairie League, Poco and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. However fleeting the thoughts may have been, it was rumored that Matthews had been under consideration to join the Eagles and Steely Dan at various points. If you want a nice little history of Iain Matthews’ varied career, do check this link out-http://www.iainmatthews.nl/fullbio.html
Getting back to the song though, I think that gentle country vibe, the leisurely saxophone weaving in and out of the song together with the pureness of Iain Matthews’s voice are a perfect recipe for calm. Indeed by the first refrain of ‘Keep On Sailing’ I am usually feeling better, and by the end of the song all those things that may have set me off are long forgotten. I don’t know if it is just me, but I can replay lots of songs (not quite note for note, but pretty close to it) in my head. So usually when I hear that phrase, Keep On Sailing from someone else I can recapture the song and feel like I am sharing a little bit of what they are feeling. In those rare instances when I do not have access to music and am feeling a little closed in it is a useful tool to have. Keep On Sailing….
What are your own go-to songs in times of crisis/frustration/anger/sadness?
Keep On Sailing-Written By Iain Matthews
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