Once again a prompt phrase for Story Telling has stimulated in my mind song lyrics from, this time, the mid 1960’s. The song is “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by the rock group the Animals a major hit for them in 1965. The lyrics are by a husband and wife team of songwriters named Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Since for the life of me I could not remember anything else about the song or the performers just that single piece of the chorus “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”. I patched those words into Google and there were many links about the song that magically appeared with a special thank you to Wikipedia.
The chorus as I was reminded goes: “we gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do”. I learned among other things that it was a favorite of soldiers serving in Viet Nam.
It apparently never reached number one on the charts but did make it to number two being edged out by the release at the same time of Help by the Beatles. This was an ironic pairing perhaps with pleas for help going nicely with the wish to get the hell out of here.
1965 was also the year my family left northern Indiana and moved up northwest of Chicago. For me personally I wonder what sort of coming out, and the possibly not so good repercussions of that, that may have occurred if we had stayed in Indiana. I have written numerous times about a couple of teachers I had in the local high school I landed in after the move, Marion Central Catholic in Woodstock Illinois, who dramatically influenced and guided me politically and sexually. Thank you universe for that wonderful escape hatch.
My move to Colorado in 1972 was also marked by an element of “we gotta get out of here”. Though a night of tequila drinking and pot smoking with several friends who also made the move may have been the primary motivation for getting out of Champaign-Urbana it might have also been the political climate at the time. Why we thought that Colorado in 1972 might have offered a better political climate I have no idea. I think it was the draw of the mountains and perhaps more frequent Colorado Grateful Dead shows that might have also played a part. We made the move in December of that year only a few weeks after Richard Nixon’s resounding defeat of George McGovern. That was something truly stunning to me and my cohort of like-minded Dead Heads. We were all convinced there would be a McGovern landside. Talk about living in a bubble, maybe all that LSD, pot and Boone’s Farm wine did really cloud our worldview a bit.
Getting out of here seems these days to be more and more a pipe dream. Is this maybe due to the inertia that seems to come, at least for me, with aging? And of course there is the rather depressing reality of where to go. We need to look no further than to the wild fire calamity occurring in California to realize that Mother Nature may be telling us in no uncertain terms to get out of here. The reality coming due all over this country and the world from the mismanagement of our environment is stark and should be motivating us to dramatic change. And no, all of us buying rakes and heading to the woods to clear leaves and brush will not cut it.
As sad an observation as it might be I am often reminded of the words of a lesbian friend from the 1970’s who often said that mammals would prove to be an evolutionary dead end. Perhaps this is true. But life here on earth today is truly a remarkable opportunity and there really is no way to get out of here –sorry Elon Musk. Let me end with a poem on Karma from the Mind Awakened Facebook page:
When a bird is alive it eats ants.
When a bird is dead, ants eat the bird.
Time and circumstances can change at any time.
Don’t devalue or hurt anyone in life.
You may be powerful today but remember
Time is more powerful than you.
One tree makes a million matches
but only one match is needed to burn a million trees.
So be good and do good.