Saturday, May 28, 2016

The truth (dharma) was obscure, too profound and too pure



A mysterious song that has stayed with me for 38 years, especially the lines highlighted in green.  The lyrics frequently come to me when I wake up in distress.  I hear them sung out of context with the rest of the song, in fragments, and they bring with them something unerring and sustaining.

"Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat)"

There's a long distance train rolling through the rain, tears on the letter I write
There's a woman I long to touch and I miss her so much but she's drifting 
like a satelite
There's a neon light ablaze in the green smoky haze, and laughter down on
Elizabeth Street
And a lonesome bell tone in that valley of stone where she bathed
in a stream of pure heat
Her father would emphasize you got to be more than street-wise but he practiced 
what he preached from the heart
A full-blooded Cherokee, he predicted it to me the time and the place it 
would start.

There's a babe in the arms of a woman in a rage
And a longtime golden-haired stripper onstage
And she winds back the clock and she turns back the page
Of a book that nobody could write
Oh, where are you tonight ?

The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure, to live it you have to explode
In the last hour of need, we entirely agreed, sacrifice was the code of the road
I left town at dawn, with Marcel and St. John, strong men betitled by doubt

I couldn't tell her what my private thoughts were but she had some way of finding 
them out
He took dead-center aim but he missed just the same, she was waiting putting 
flowers on the shelf
She could feel my despair as I climbed up her hair and discovered her invisible self.

There's a lion in the road, there's a demon escaped
There's a million dreams gone, there's a landscape being raped

As her beauty fades and I watch her undrape
I won't but then again, maybe I might
Oh, if I could just find you tonight.
I fought with my twin, that enemy within, 'til both of us fell by the way
Horseplay and disease is killing me by degrees while the law looks the other way
Your partners in crime hit me up for nickels and dimes, the man you were loving 
couldn't never get clean
It felt outa place, my foot in his face, but he should-a stayed where his money 
was green
I bit into the root of forbidden fruit with the juice running down my leg
Then I dealt with your boss, who'd never known about loss and who always was too 
proud to beg
There's a white diamond gloom on the dark side of this room and a pathway that 
leads up to the stars
If you don't believe there's a price for this sweet paradise, just remind me to show 
you the scars.


There's a new day at dawn and I've finally arrived
If I'm there in the morning, baby, you'll know I've survived
I can't believe it, I can't believe I'm alive

But without you it just doesn't seem right
Oh, where are you tonight ?


Although I'm quite fond of of words, right now I'm remembering, too, a much-loved local jazz musician and teacher, deeply kind and compassionate, who died a few years ago and of whom it was said at his celebration of life, "Music was his religion." No words, no thoughts, no God, no Buddha, no dharma, no sangha.  Pure music alone sustained him, and the music he created lives on to sustain others.  

2 comments:

Sabine said...

Thanks for that link. I had completely forgotten this song though we do have (had?) the album somewhere. A good cover.

sackerson said...

Thanks for that. I never got Dylan in my youth, to my shame. I like him more and more the older I get.

Regarding raping landscapes, the county council here has just given the go-ahead for fracking. I don't write rude words in blog comments so I'll leave it there...