I don’t remember the first time I ever heard the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, I wish I could because I love the song and the sentiment behind the lyrics. It is perhaps one of my favorite songs of all time by the former Beatle, however; it is not my favorite Beatle song. If I had to pick one of the many brilliant tunes by the Fab Four it would most likely be “Long and Winding Road”. (At least lately it is.) Matter of fact, I’ve probably listened to that particular song a dozen times in the past few days.
In case you haven’t heard the song or have the ability to recite the lyrics from heart and memory, the song is about a man (at least from my perspective) who is pining for his lost lover. A lover who is gone, whether the lover is dead, moved on into another relationship or has filed a restraining order against the stalker standing on the doorstep singing a sorrowful song with full orchestral accompaniment I don’t know. I do know that Paul McCartney’s performance is delivered with an almost tearful choke in his voice. He conveys the loneliness and sorrow one feels when they are left alone pining for someone who can never reciprocate the love they are compelled to share. An unrequited love that leads a man on a journey to an empty house that he believes is the only place he can call home.
The person portrayed in the song is a sad and lost soul searching for the only place he felt safe and comfortable. Home. Which I believe is what we are all searching for and when we find it, we hold on to our homes as tightly as we can. Not a house, a home. A place where the monsters of the world are unwelcome and are not allowed entry.
I’ve lived many places in my life and I’ve even called a few of them “home”. A place of comfort, security, joy, madness and strife, and the longing conveyed in this song brings forth a sentiment, nay, a hunger for simpler times where happiness is experienced in the joy of knowing you are in a secure place filled with the one(s) you love.
It’s funny, now that I think of it, the day I graduated High School, went home only to discover all my worldly belongings were sitting on the porch, the locks to the house were changed and I had nowhere to go that this song was on replay in my mind. I trudged through the streets of town, carrying a stack of albums, my blanket and a change of clothes. All my other items I knew I could live without. When I came to a pay phone I called a buddy of mine and he offered me a place to stay for the night. Hell, he even came and picked me up.
While I waited, the Beatles kept me company.
While we drove back to his house, with Van Halen telling us to “JUMP” through the house speakers wired and stacked in the back seat of his Gran Torino, Paul McCartney’s tenor drowned out David Lee Roth. At his house, packed with the recent graduating class of 1985 doing their best to wash away the last four years of their lives in purloined booze and drugs, George Harrison’s reserved strumming filled my ears.
Days later, when I was being awoken by a screaming middle aged man in a khaki uniform at 4 a.m. my mind still looped “Long and Winding Road”. Maybe it was my ID at the time telling me to stay the course that everything will work out and eventually, if I’m faithful I will get to where I need to be and find the elusive “home” in the song.
Over the years, I’ve changed the lyrics a bit… from “Long and Winding Road” to “Rough and Tumble Road”. Only now, as I look back with crystal clear vision do I realize that my home should not be dependent upon who I’m with or even what I have, my home should be where I’m comfortable and what I can make of it. This song, which as a youth I thought was about a man trying to get home only to discover no one there is really a love song about losing the one thing in his life that made him comfortable. I can understand both those sentiments and I have walked in both those men’s shoes for more than my share of miles.
But all that is now in the past and I’m left to listen to a song that brings forth a plethora of memories and feelings. I’m home now, it’s a good home and I’m glad I’m here. After all, it’s been a long and winding road. (C’mon, you had to have seen that coming!)
Happy Valentine’s day, have a great week!