Thursday, December 9, 2010

Walking Music

I don't know about everyone else, but I know that I often am imagining what my words and deeds look to an objective observer. That is to say that I picture what a movie of my actions at any given time would look like. As I've noted before, and at the risk of seeming vain, I frequently steal glimpses of myself in reflective surfaces. I also contrive in my mind a soundtrack which conveys my emotions and the tone of the moment. I half-remember a line heard secondhand from Dick Clark which has it that music is the soundtrack of our lives. I don't really care for it, but there is something there. There are two songs which come to my mind immediately as go-to tunes, with others which crop up little enough that they don't bear mentioning.

The first of the bigs ones is not very well know. I'd say you'd know if it you heard it, but even expanding to encompass people with that limited exposure, it remains an obscure song. It so happens that I'm a fan of 'First Blood', the first in the progressively less grounded and more cartoonish series of Rambo films. Its main theme (which plays as an instrumental version in the opening credits and with lyrics over the closing onces) perfectly suggests the melancholy and downtrodden quality which marks the protagonist. As the music plays, we see the weary, scruffy John Rambo walking along the highway with his only worldly possession in tow. When I feel anything like that while out on the streets, the song swells up in my mind, and I flatter myself into thinking that it fits.

The other big one is a little more upbeat. When I believe that I look cool or like something of a bad-ass, I hear in my head none other than the classic 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return)' by Jimi Hendrix. This is traced to a film as well. I think it was when I was a high school junior that I saw the fine film 'Payback' starring recently laid-low Mel Gibson. At the time he was held in very high regard, and for good reason. He did about as well in portraying the same hardboiled character as the legendary Lee Marvin did in 'Point Blank'. You can see how highly I think of not only my coolness but my toughness as well.

Of course, both songs probably miss the mark. I can't possibly be objective in selecting proper ones. No one can. I'd love to be clearly worthy of being defined musically Jimi's music, as about anyone sensible would, but it's a rare, elite person who warrants it. Maybe it's not obvious why anyone should want to be marked by the other one, but it seems to me that most people at some time like to play the victim or tragic figure. There's a kind of nobility or dignity. To embrace it is to tap out, to wallow in pity. As someone has undoubtedly observed, feeling bad feels good sometimes. Anyway, those are the songs I hear most when I walk alone.

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