Monday, November 19, 2007

Boats against the current...

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. ... And one fine morning -- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby."

That quote is among my favorite passages in any work of literature. It could have been ripped from my soul, a somewhat embarrassing realization that I have more in common with Jay Gatsby than I'd prefer to admit.

Didn't make it to Barley's last night. So after eating dinner with friends and visiting my parents awhile, I went home, eased into some comfy clothes and put on Tony Bennett.

I'd heard part of this album, "The Art of Excellence," referenced on The Sunday Show, and downloaded it from iTunes. It was the perfect companion for what became a foggy evening.

It really was worthwhile to live/When love was all we had...

I feel sometimes, if I can be blunt with you, like I, too, am a boat against the current, drifting along here in this strange place called 2007. Like Patton, who so hated the 20th century, I wonder if I really belong "back there" somewhere, seduced by a blinking green hued promise of a yesterday that never was, and a tomorrow that never will be.

This 1986 Bennett album was his "comeback," the first pebble (or should I say gem?) that touched off the second act of his career, leading up to his triumphant appearance on MTV's "Unplugged" in 1994. It reminds me of how good popular music once was -- and could be again. I think about Harry Connick Jr., Norah Jones, Michael Buble and a few others and dare to believe that hope floats out there amid all this noise.

I can't help but wonder how I arrived at this point, crowdin' 30 and feeling restless, wondering where in the hell the world went to that I always figured would be waiting here, and not much liking the harsh reality.

So I feel nostalgia's sweet tug and am a boat against the current, Jimmy Buffett's pirate who had so much trouble with his 40th year, born too late.

And I lose myself in that long-ago music, caught up in all those hooks and 4/4 mirages, hoping for reasons I still don't quite understand that some way, somehow, just like before, it's yesterday once more.

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