Sadly, there are many Vietnam vets who are stuck inside their war experiences throughout their life. I’m not one of those, as I flunked my draft physical due to hearing loss and therefore avoided that tragic consequence. Where I am stuck in that time is the music I loved. When the 1980’s came around I was losing my hearing at a pretty rapid pace and the last thread was lost in 1988.
They say “music calms the savage beast”, I know it calmed me to just lay back and soak it in until it wouldn’t soak in any longer. I was a folk music fan to the core. Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul and Mary, Donovan, Guthrie, Joan Baez, and many others was how I vegged out. Dylan gave me a strong part of my ethical life. Folk music was who I was in those days. I couldn’t imagine being without it.
I eventually went back to the origins of folk music and found Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and also consumed them as well. Eventually, listening to those big black discs would be no more. But, I carried about a hundred of them around for more than thirty years from one residence to another. With this latest move to a retirement community, I am finally letting them go. I don’t know if they have any value now, I guess that is something I need to investigate.
I have mentioned here before that at some time in the last dozen years my mind has completely erased the sound of musical instruments. I just can’t remember what a guitar sounds like anymore. I still remember the finger placement for most folk songs (C, D, G, F and sometimes A). Losing that memory was kind of a shock as it was happening. That loss led to more stages of depression than I even now want to admit. Music would no longer be part of my life. It has been erased. But, I still cling to the words of many of the songs I once played. I have many of the lyrics written down. I’ll let you in on a little secret, when I am alone I often get out those words and “sing” them. I know something pretty ugly probably comes out of my mouth, but even this minimal attempt has a way of calming this savage beast.