Although I was unable to dissuade my father from flying back to the States to save what’s left of American democracy, I did manage to squeeze one concession from him: we agreed to text-only communication during his absence. I loathe speaking over a telephone. I never answer incoming calls directly, whether business or personal. I resent the intrusion. I’ve never understood why the actors in movies and TV shows always feel the overwhelming urge to answer the goddamned phone, especially when they’re in the middle of a conversation with a live person. That’s just rude.
In this case, texting was the more reliable option anyway because of the time zone difference. One morning I woke up thinking about dad and texted him: “What’s the situation over there?” I knew he wouldn’t answer immediately, but at least he’d wake up to a message from his beloved daughter and know that I was thinking of him.
Several hours later, he responded.
“I Am the Walrus.”
You may read that response and conclude that dad was starting to lose it, but what he was doing was initiating a game we used to play when I was growing up. We called it “Musical Charades” though there was no charading involved. The rules are simple: instead of answering a question with direct language, you had to answer a query with the title of a song or an album. You “won” if any of the other players successfully translated your message into common language.
When dad responded to “What’s the situation over there?” with “I Am the Walrus,” what he meant was “I am in the midst of a bizarre, nonsensical environment a la Alice in Wonderland.”
I texted back: “Coronavirus?”
He replied: “The Sound of Music.”
There were two ways to interpret that reply, but I thought I knew which version was on his mind.
I replied: “Bonzos?” They did the ultimate cover version of that horrid song, one that collapses into massive confusion and cacophony.
“Bloody Well Right!”
“Happiness is a Thing Called Joe.”
I was confused by this answer, as he left France committed to Elizabeth Warren and I thought for sure he’d go for Bernie after she called it quits.
“Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes?”
“The Gambler.” Ah. Acceptance. Know when to fold ’em. May you rest in peace, Kenny Rogers.
“So why ‘I Am the Walrus?'”
“You asked me about the situation. Ask me about the response to the situation.”
“Okay. I’m asking.”
“Late for the Sky.”
A translation of dad’s reference to Late for the Sky would go something like this: “Though people are trying to be hopeful and make the best out of a bad situation, the general mood is one of sadness for what has been lost—and instead of moving forward, people have either checked out or turned to the past for solace.” Joe Biden probably drove something close to the early model Chevrolet pictured on the cover when he was in his teens, which is certainly part of his appeal (along with the dark shades he sports in photo ops). I think what dad was saying underneath it all is that it was weird and walrusy for the Democrats to decide to make America great again by doing what the GOP did: evoking the myth of a nostalgized past.
I’ll give the Democrats credit for only going back eight years instead of a full century, but still . . .
Late for the Sky came out about a month after Nixon’s resignation, the act that allegedly ended the “long national nightmare” associated with Watergate. It didn’t. The world economy was in recession and would remain in recession for another year or so. The act that kick-started that recession was the Yom Kippur War, which led OPEC to launch an oil embargo, which created a gasoline shortage that in due time led to long lines and higher prices at the pump. Before he left office, Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, which lowered the national maximum speed limit to 55. This sequence of events had to be shocking to Americans used to cheap and plentiful gasoline, and because the automobile was (and for many Americans, still is) a powerful symbol of freedom and mobility, this new reality seemed to threaten the very essence of American life.
If Jackson Browne had released an album of crappy songs with nothing to offer except that iconic cover featuring a ’54 Chevy 210 in a lighting scheme borrowed from Magritte, I still think the initial pressing would have sold like hotcakes. People longing for a James Dean past (conveniently forgetting that Dean died in a horrible car wreck) would have snapped up the album like they’re snapping up hand sanitizer right now. Those buyers would have missed the essential irony of the cover: a world in twilight, moving from light to darkness, from glorious past to uncertain future, a suburb-scape frozen in ambiguity.
Fortunately for posterity, Late for the Sky will be remembered for more than its cover. If I were to compile a list of the most effective mood albums, Late for the Sky would be at or near the top. Even the upbeat songs have a touch of melancholy. Under a tight time frame and limited funding imposed by David Geffen of Asylum Records, Jackson Browne created a set of compositions that come together to form themes as strong or stronger than most so-called concept albums. He employed his touring band for the recording, lowering the odds of miscommunication and conflict—and because that touring band included maxi-instrumentalist David Lindley, who would eventually earn a deserved reputation as one of the greatest musicians of our time, the listener is pretty much guaranteed a first-rate production. What amazes me about Lindley is not just his ability to master so many instruments that even he can’t even remember them all, but his ability to jump genres. That’s much harder than people realize because each musical genre has its own paradigms of varying rigidity, and all human beings have the tendency to stay in their comfort zones. On Late for the Sky, he reveals himself to be a top-tier rock guitarist, master of country slide guitar and first-class fiddler; he would later explore many forms of world music from Norway to Madagascar. But what I appreciate most about Lindley is that he’s a multi-level virtuoso who doesn’t go out of his way to draw attention to himself and his skills; for Lindley, music = collaboration. Browne also brought in a few friends living in the vicinity primarily for vocal harmonies and employed composer David Campbell for the string arrangement on “The Late Show,” but for the most part, he kept the circle small, manageable and tight, resulting in exceptional unity on every track.
Though I’m not particularly sold on Browne’s apocalyptic predictions in “The Road and the Sky” and “Before the Deluge,” the sense of impending doom fits with the overall themes of loss, change and perpetual uncertainty. What makes Late for the Sky a special experience isn’t the philosophizing or the fortune-telling but the emotional impact of the songs. Though the emotional orientation of the album has caused at least one critic to complain that the album is “a bit mopey” (Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide), I’d attribute that opinion to the critic’s lack of emotional intelligence and the general discomfort people have regarding feelings. The songs on Late for the Sky are generally free of sentimentality, even when Browne indulges in nostalgic reminiscences. I would argue that Late for the Sky is an emotionally honest album that explores human emotion courageously and in depth . . . as the title track so poignantly demonstrates.
If you’ve seen the movie Yesterday, a story about a so-so singer-songwriter who winds up in an alternate reality where no one has ever heard of The Beatles, there is a scene on a beach where the guy’s pals ask him to play something on his guitar and he responds with a perfectly lovely version of “Yesterday” that brings tears to the eyes of the women in the group (no one in the alt-timeline had heard the song). “Late for the Sky” evokes that kind of reaction in me; I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the song without tearing up. Rather than dismissing my reaction as “a typical girl thing,” consider the possibility that Jackson Browne managed to describe and express the pain, confusion and unwelcome awareness of a failing relationship better than anyone before or since. Try to remember those circular conversations, those “you don’t understand” accusations coming from both sides and the dawning realization that neither party has fallen in love with the person they thought was the love of their life:
The words had all been spoken
And somehow the feeling still wasn’t right
And still we continued through the night
Tracing our steps from the beginning
Until they vanished into the air
Trying to understand how our lives had led us there
Looking hard into your eyes
There was nobody I’d ever known
Such an empty surprise
To feel so alone
The awful beauty of that verse is expressed through a beautifully flowing melody with its evocative power enhanced by the combination of clarity and anguish in Browne’s vocal. The instrumental support is appropriately restrained, with Browne gently accompanying himself on piano, David Lindley supplying toned-down counterpoints on guitar and Jai Winding in deep background on Hammond organ, adding a funereal tone to the proceedings. Larry Zack doesn’t enter with the drums until the line “Looking hard into your eyes,” a line given painful emphasis through low vocal harmony. And that last line—“To feel so alone,” delivered in full voice with perfect clarity—seems to extend far beyond the musical moment, an expression of existential-level isolation.
He hasn’t brought me to tears yet, but Jackson has certainly awakened my sense of empathy by describing an archetypally painful moment in language that cuts through the generalizations inherent in an archetype. In the second verse, he recognizes that words don’t often have impact “compared with the things that are said when lovers touch,” tacitly acknowledging the possibility that the touching has also served to mask the underlying fissures in the relationship. The third line signals the passage that initiates the tears for me, for all my relational failures have been accompanied by the realization that my partner really never loved me, but their wish-distorted image of me:
You never knew what I loved in you
I don’t know what you loved in me
Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be
Awake again I can’t pretend
And I know I’m alone and close to the end
Of the feeling we’ve known
“And I know I’m alone” breaks the dam for me; by the end of the bridge I’m absolutely destroyed:
How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
To be the one you need
That last sustained note, resolving not on the expected C major but its A-minor complement, is so beautiful, so utterly painful. Sometimes we can’t work it out, and wishin’ and hopin’ won’t make it so.
David Lindley gives us some time to pull ourselves together with a gorgeous guitar solo that moves from a mood of respectful mourning to a quick upward shift announcing the “awake again” passage, followed in turn by an extended and slightly modified “How long” passage that mourns lost time and opportunity:
How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been running for that morning flight
Through the whispered promises and the changing light
Of the bed where we both lie
Late for the sky
The original impetus of the song was simple: Jackson Browne wanted to write a song that ended with the line “late for the sky.” What came from that tiny fragment of creative thought far exceeded anyone’s expectations. “Late for the Sky” may be a tough experience, but it describes real experience—and it’s always better to deal with reality, no matter how unpleasant or agonizing.
Listen to “Late for the Sky” on YouTube.
“Fountain of Sorrow” continues the themes of “love’s illusions” and existential isolation while linking them more closely to what Jung called the process of individuation. Before I go any further, I have to call bullshit on the Wikipedia contributor who added a section called “Origins” and filled it with this: “The song is generally assumed to have been inspired by Browne’s brief relationship with Joni Mitchell.” Gripe 1: “Generally assumed.” What the fuck? Gripe 2: Who assumed? Name your source! Show your work! Gripe 3: WHO GIVES A SHIT? Am I supposed to be impressed? What does that alleged relationship have to do with the interpretation of the song? Harrumph!
The story begins when Jackson finds an old photograph in a drawer, an experience common to most people, even famous musicians. Using the classic ABAB rhyme scheme and some clever manipulation of language (“I was taken by a photograph of you”), Browne uncovers something more behind the superficial physical manifestation:
Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer
I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true
You were turning ’round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes
The experience that occasioned the sorrow is similar to the situation in “Late for the Sky.” Our search for the perfect union is filtered through our essential loneliness—a filter of desperate hope that distorts our perception of the other. When the façade inevitably collapses, we experience the embarrassment that triggers the flight response:
What I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb
When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger
And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool
So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
While the loneliness seems to spring from your life like a fountain from a pool
Note how Jackson adds a few metrical feet to that closing line to make the line work, a neat little trick that I hope will draw the attention of lazy songwriters everywhere. At this point, he inserts a chorus that turns out to be a bit of foreshadowing that falls short of true resolution:
Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to hide sometimes but now you’re all right
And it’s good to see your smiling face tonight
We know now that all is forgiven; that both parties in the relationship accept “that magic feeling never seems to last.” Still, the urge to flee into isolation presents a risk because “. . . if you feel too free and you need something to remind you/There’s this loneliness springing up from your life like a fountain from a pool.” Resolution comes in the extended chorus that appears at the end, supported by bright, uplifting harmonies and that contribute mightily to the engaging crescendo:
Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to struggle, you’ve had to fight
To keep understanding and compassion in sight
You could be laughing at me, you’ve got the right
But you go on smiling so clear and so bright
Once again, the band is tight yet subdued; the music flows as naturally as a mountain stream; the melody is intensely memorable. Even with the optimistic ending, the lasting impression is one of sorrow, the lingering sense of sorrow that is part of the human condition.
Welcome to life, my friends.
“Farther On” presents a looser structure, as Browne abandons classic rhyme schemes for a mix of internal rhyme and imbalanced lines and stanzas. After the eight-measure intro, we get two “passages” that consist of 4, 5 and 3-line “verses.” Those passages are followed by a four-line chorus and a solo that employs the chord structure of the intro. What we’d normally refer to as the bridge comes next—four lines based on a new chord structure. The bridge is followed by two renditions (musically similar but lyrically different) of the chorus, with an additional line appended to the final go-round. If those structural principles had been applied to a building, that sucker would have collapsed in a 3.0 earthquake. Browne’s poetry isn’t as sharp here, featuring some Shelleyan excess (“adrift on an ocean of loneliness”) and the random awkward construction (“My dreams like nets were thrown”). While I think killing the similes and replacing them with metaphors might have strengthened the poetry, the structure is too weak to carry much of a load, and the song takes forever to get to the eventually satisfying tie-it-all-together moment.
“The Late Show” expands the relationship focus of the album to include non-intimate friendships while continuing to point out the dangers involved in searching for “perfect love.” I wouldn’t call Jackson’s tone here “cynical,” but it’s obvious he’s met a few assholes along the way:
Everyone I’ve ever known has wished me well
Anyway that’s how it seems, it’s hard to tell
Maybe people only ask you how you’re doing
‘Cause that’s easier than letting on how little they could care
But when you know that you’ve got a real friend somewhere
Suddenly all the others are so much easier to bear
I don’t know about that. My partner and I are truly in love, and I have several good friends and wonderful parents, but because of those marvelous relationships I actually find assholes and phonies harder to bear. I relate more easily to his frustration with the concept of perfect love, expressed with a bit more sting in this song:
Now to see things clear it’s hard enough I know
While you’re waiting for reality to show
Without dreaming of the perfect love
And holding it so far above
That if you stumbled onto someone real, you’d never know
That’s a great line! Unfortunately, it’s followed by the first of several lines featuring Jackson’s motley group of local musicians singing harmony. Some of the lines are call-and-response; others are legitimate verse lines containing fresh thought. I find these harmonized lines somewhat distracting except for the two harmonized lines in the closing passages (the “let’s just say” lines). I really resent their prominence in the mix because it interferes with my enjoyment of David Lindley’s sweet, not-a-note-wasted slide guitar. I wouldn’t go so far to say that the harmonizers ruin the song, but I sure am happy when Jackson shifts to conversational tone and says “Look,” following it with one of his stronger similies, one that transforms isolation from a concept to something tangible:
It’s like you’re standing in the window
Of a house nobody lives in
And I’m sitting in a car across the way
The harmonizers return at this point, but instead of competing with Jackson for attention, they sing their brief lines and get the hell out of the way:
(Let’s just say)
It’s an early model Chevrolet
(Let’s just say)
It’s a warm and windy day
You go and pack your sorrow
The trash man comes tomorrow
Leave it at the curb and we’ll just roll away
The closing passage of “The Late Show” forms a perfect segue to “The Road and the Sky” on side two. After four slow and mid-tempo songs, it’s great to hear the band rocking out, and while it may not match the power displayed on “Redneck Friend,” I’ll take it. The rhyme scheme works out to AAABA, with each B line beginning with the word “but.” The first “but” is used in contradiction to common wisdom (“They told me I was gonna have to work for a living/But all I want to do is ride”), the second to separate past from present (“I used to know where they ended and the world began/But now it’s getting hard to tell), while the third warns of coming disaster (“Now you can hold on steady and try to be ready/But everybody’s gonna get wet”). Those phrases form a lyrical progression that falls on the pessimistic side: from freedom to uncertainty to certain disaster. When I said “Even the upbeat songs have a touch of melancholy,” this is what I meant. What saves the song from becoming a depressing drag is the spirited bridge, which essentially says fuck-all to obstacles, real or feared:
I’m just rolling away from yesterday
Behind the wheel of a stolen Chevrolet
I’m going to get a little higher
And see if I can hot-wire reality
That’s all fine and dandy, but it does present yet another contradiction. How can you “roll away from yesterday” in an iconic brand that formed part of the hallowed foursome of Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? When Jackson Browne was growing up, did he fall victim to the enthusiastic voice of Dinah Shore urging viewers to “See the USA in your Chevrolet?” This may seem an irrelevant point until you remember that Americans have an unusually intimate relationship with advertising. Don’t believe me? Let us consider the most important annual celebration in American life: Super Bowl Sunday, in the year of our lord 2019. From Forbes:
Pex, a company that delivers video and music analytics and rights management services, tracked views of 28 Super Bowl ads before, during, and after Super Bowl Sunday on 24 video and social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Ads tracked include Amazon, Pepsi, Toyota, Old Spice, Budweiser, Stella Artois, Pepsi, and Doritos, among others.
The results show that despite a snoozing Super Bowl that led to a low televised audience around 98.2 million viewers, ads were watched massively online before and after the game. On Thursday and Friday before the Super Bowl, the 28 ads tracked had already been viewed about 105 million times across the original YouTube ads and more than 1,000 videos, including on the brands own accounts, organic re-uploads, and pre-roll views (ads that play before a YouTube video, for example). 65% of the re-uploads included the full commercial. Clearly, some advertisers could have started their Super Bowl party as early as Friday night, had they been aware of these numbers and the corresponding early success of their campaigns.
Non-American readers may assume that I’m attempting to belittle the significance of Jackson Browne’s work on Late for the Sky by pointing out its connection to something as crass as advertising, but the opposite is true. Every culture is defined by its archetypes and symbols, and Jackson Browne had to figure out how to communicate his thoughts to a generation whose primary source for nuggets of wisdom had changed from Sunday school to the boob tube. And because that generation grew up during a period when America was systematically destroying its public transportation infrastructure in favor of the automobile and the Interstate Highway System, the Chevrolet—at the time, the most popular car brand in the USA—was a near-universal symbol of American progress and individual liberty. Given the threat to that liberty posed by gas shortages and government regulation, the Chevy is transformed into a symbol that highlights the tug of war between past and present, between forward and reverse—a struggle that defined America in the 70s and every decade since.
So, what the hell? Since current reality sucks, why not steal a car, hit the open road and build a new reality? Shifting to one of the few still-universally understood metaphors from the good book, Browne argues that with another great flood headed our way, it’s time for a little carpe diem:
Now can you see those dark clouds gathering up ahead?
They’re going to wash this planet clean like the bible said
Now you can hold on steady and try to be ready
But everybody’s gonna get wet
Don’t think it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet
I’ve always felt that the belief in a doomed future is fueled by human frustration and impatience with other humans rather than some kind of mystical inevitability, but apparently, I’m in the minority. What I find so curious about that orientation is that even with Watergate, oil shocks and recession, the USA was still the richest and most powerful country in the world. So why all the doom and gloom? Although I doubt listeners understood it at the time, “The Road and the Sky” is essentially an elegy marking the death of American optimism.
Listen to “The Road and the Sky” on YouTube.
Continuing with a more poignant and disquieting take on loss and change, “For a Dancer” finds Jackson Browne reflecting on the death of a friend and the larger issue of death itself. Death isn’t a particularly welcome topic in popular music, so there have been few serious attempts to explore its fundamental meaning through that medium. There was the teen drama phase in the early 60’s with crap like “Ebony Eyes” and “Tell Laura I Love Her” (I exclude “Leader of the Pack from the crap category because The Shangri-Las understood melodrama) and the raft of suicide songs in metal, grunge and punk during the 80’s and 90’s (continuing into the 21st century with Metallica’s “Fade to Black”), but few serious confrontations with mortality. Ben Gibbard confronted it head-on in “I Will Follow You into the Dark” and “What Sarah Said” on Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans; McCartney wrote a genuinely tender and heartbreaking song about helping a child through the death of a parent in “Little Willow;” and Blue Oyster Cult followed Jackson Browne’s lead a couple of years later with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” What I admire about Jackson Browne’s treatment is his ability to ask the hard questions and translate question and response into feelings we can all appreciate:
I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
But I can’t sing
I can’t help listening
He also offers a solution while refusing to offer resolution. In the process, he once again highlights the essential isolation of our species, trapped in separate bodies, infallibly mortal:
Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
By everyone you’ve ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone
That’s the part about death that troubles me the most—doing the dance alone. The other troubling aspect of existence involves the purpose of life itself. Most of us want our lives to have meaning, a sense of purpose; unfortunately but honestly, the song fails to provide the answer we want to hear:
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know
The harmonies on “For a Dancer” don’t seem quite as intrusive, but that could be due to having my attention riveted on David Lindley’s fiddle, so sensitive, so lovely.
Listen to “For a Dancer” on YouTube.
“Walking Slow” seems harmless enough at first—Jackson strolling through his old stomping grounds, feeling pretty good about things as he lopes along to a nice bouncy beat peppered with sound of a bass jug courtesy of Fritz Richmond. All is going on swimmingly until he encounters his old friends—Isolation and The Grim Reaper:
Don’t know why I’m happy
I’ve got no reason to feel this good
Maybe it’s because I’m all alone and I’ve got no place to go
And everywhere I look I see another person I’ll never know
I got a thing or two to say before I walk on by
I’m feeling good today
But if die a little farther along
I’m trusting everyone to carry on
Dude! I appreciate the sentiment and your fervent commitment to the continuity of the species, but you can’t spend all your quality time thinking about death! Enjoy the sun, enjoy the vibe and forget about the 16-ton weight!
Actually, the song is more upbeat than the lyrics would imply—Jackson delivers one of his best pure rock vocals, combining passion, grit and a touch of playfulness. The perfectly-timed handclapping helps lighten the atmosphere while suggesting that listeners might want to join in the fun, and if you’re into great guitar solos, David Lindley is there to provide.
The closing piece, “Before the Deluge,” extends the scope of predicted social collapse to include environmental self-destruction. The message seems to be directed at that subset of the Woodstock generation that led the “back to nature” movement:
Some of them were dreamers
And some of them were fools
Who were making plans and thinking of the future
With the energy of the innocent
They were gathering the tools
They would need to make their journey back to nature
In the second verse, though, Browne seems to indicate that the movement is running out of steam because of the endless attractions of the material world, where Woodstockers are exchanging “love’s bright and fragile glow/For the glitter and the rouge.” Browne then predicts that those who opt for the superficial over the substantial will be “swept before the deluge.” That seems more than a bit preachy and judgmental to me, but the “back to nature” movement has always been marked by the elitism common to true believers. Sorry, Jackson, but I don’t think glam rock was a threat to society or that David Bowie was the devil incarnate.
The problem with the first two verses is that Browne is “trying to be poetic,” piling on the metaphors and similes as if he truly believes the deluge is coming and there will be no tomorrow. We finally get some concrete clarity at the start of the third verse:
Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
Justifiable anger to be sure, but the personification of nature as the avenging angel that follows (“And they struggled to protect her from them/Only to be confused/By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour”) is melodramatic nonsense. I could go on about how nature has no consciousness and therefore, incapable of motive or feeling, and also point out that if nature was “self-aware,” it certainly wouldn’t engage in self-destructive actions like destroying fauna and flora with volcanic ash and fire . . . but let’s just say I believe the best part of the song is (once again) David Lindley’s fiddle and leave it at that. “Before the Deluge” is one of several failed attempts at a serious and meaningful closing number that marked many a post-Sgt. Pepper album—everybody wanted to end their work with another “A Day in the Life,” and only a very few came close. If you’re looking for a far superior closing number with a more relevant and powerful message to the Woodstock generation, you need look no further than “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” If anything, “Before the Deluge” confirms that Jackson Browne was a much stronger poet when he focused on common experience expressed in concrete language.
Though I don’t think much of the song, “Before the Deluge” is certainly consistent with the album’s melancholy mood as well as the pervasive anxiety that accompanies loss, change and uncertainty. Late for the Sky is essentially an album dedicated to the great human paradox: when we are frightened, we tend to turn inward and seek refuge in isolation instead of reaching out to others and facing the fear together. We are living that paradox right now, in every corner of the world: dealing with a species-level calamity that requires us to isolate ourselves from other human beings so we can live another day but also requires us to figure out a way to work together to defeat the common enemy. We are all experiencing loss, change and uncertainty, and some will dance “the one dance you’ll do alone.” I suggest you consider Jackson Browne’s advice on how to cope with disaster and eventually turn a bad situation into something better:
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
Please help others when you can, and above all, stay well.
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