Ordinary People

Life on the street.
Life on the street.


With different eyes. This is the first picture I saw. I took it. I wasn’t going to publish it. Yet. But, in an exchange of emails with a dear friend of mine, she was talking about ordinary people. It struck me that this picture might just be part of the new normal. So, I thought…

Then, a Neil Young song came to me. This one.

“Two out of work models and a fashion slave. Try to dance away the Michelob night. The bartender poured herself another drink. While two drunks were watchin’ the fight. The champ went down and he got up again. Then he went out like a light. Fightin’ for the people.

But his timing wasn’t right. The high rollin’ people. Takin’ limos in the neon light. The Las Vegas people. They came to see a Las Vegas fight. Fightin’ for the people. There’s a man in the window with a big cigar. Says everything’s for sale. He had a house and a boat and a railroad car. The owner’s gotta go to jail. He acquired these things from a life of crime.

Now he’s sellin’ them to make bail. He was rippin’ off the people. Sellin’ guns to the underground. Livin’ off the people. Skimmin’ the top when there was no one around. Tryin’ to help the people. Lose their ass for a piece of ground. A patch o’ ground people.

He was dealin’ antiques in a hardware store. But he sure had a lot to hide. He had a back room full of the guns of war.  And a ton ammunition besides. Yeah, he walked with a cane. Kept a bolt on the door with five pit bulls inside. Just a warnin’ to the people. In case they might try to break in at night.

Protection from the people. He’s sellin’ safety in the darkest night. Tryin’ to help the people. Get the drugs to the street all right. Tryin’ to help the people. Well, it’s hard to say where a man goes wrong. Might be here and it might be there. What starts out weak might get too strong. If you can’t tell foul from fair. But it’s hard to judge from an angry throng. Of hands stretched up in the air.

Vigilante people. Takin’ the law into their own hands. The conscientious people. Crackin’ down on the drug lord and his bands. Government people. Confiscatin’ all the dealer’s land. The patch o’ ground people. A new Rolls Royce, a company car. They were racin’ down the street. Each one was tryin’ to make it to the gate. Before employees manned the fleet.

The trucks full of products for the modern home. Were set to roll out into the street of ordinary people. Tryin’ to make their way to work. The downtown people. Some are saints and some are jerks. That’s me, everyday people.

Stoppin’ for a drink on their way to work. Alcoholic people, takin’ it one day at a time. Down on the assembly line. They keep puttin’ the same things out. The people today, they just ain’t buyin’. Nobody can figure it out. They try like hell to build a quality in. They’re workin’ hard without a doubt.

Ordinary people.

But the dollar’s what it’s all about. Lee Iaccoca people. But the customers are walkin’ out. The nose to the stone people. Yeah, they look but they just don’t buy. The patch o’ ground people.In a dusty town the clock struck high noon. Two men stood face to face. One wore black and one wore white. But of fear there wasn’t a trace. A hundred and eighty years later.

Two hot rods drag through the very same place. A half million people. They moved in to pick up the pace. A factory full of people. Makin’ parts to go to outer space. A train load of people. They were leavin’ for another place. Out of town people. Down at the factory they’re puttin’ new windows in. The vandals made a mess of things. And the homeless just walked right in. Well, they worked here once and they live here now. But they might work here again.

The ordinary people.

They’re just livin’ in a dream. Hard workin’ people. Just don’t know what it means. To give up people. They’re just like they used to be. Patch o’ ground people. Out on the railroad track they’re cleanin’ ol’ number nine. They’re scrubbin’ the boiler down. She really is lookin’ fine, a beauty, that number nine. Times’ll be different soon they’re gonna bring her back on-line.

Ordinary people.

They’re gonna bring the good things back. Hard workin’ people. They put the business back on track. The everyday people. I got faith in the regular kind. Patch o’ ground people. “

— Neil Young © 2007/Silver Fiddle Music

And, that’s the story. Three weeks of travel and I came back to this. Oh yeah. She saw me. I smiled at her and gave her a couple of dollars. Somehow I knew that just wasn’t enough. It’s what I could do. At that very moment.

Things are gonna change.



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