“Once the world was new, Our bodies felt the morning dew, That greets the brand new day, We couldn’t tear ourselves away, I wonder if you care. I wonder if you still remember, Once upon a time, In your wildest dreams.” — Moody Blues
Ray Thomas passed earlier this week with barely a mention. Thomas was a founding member, flautist, and vocalist of The Moody Blues. The band broke away from traditional rock ‘n roll standards in 1967. They played rock with an orchestral twist. A little psychedelic. A little spiritual. And, certainly with great humor.
They continue to play today. In a twist of twists, they’ll be in New Orleans in three days. I’m thinking that we should go. Half way recovered from the flu or not, we should be there. The musicians of my time are passing before our very eyes.
In the publicity walk up prior to Eric Clapton’s movie, he’s been doing interviews. The normal sort of thing. I was well aware of his back pain problems. He says that he’s happy that his hands still work. But, he also is going deaf and he has tinnitus. I couldn’t imagine not able to play, and not being to hear if my life was all music. His ear issues make sense because musicians of his early era cranked up the amps and blasted away. They did not mic them. They stood in front of them and that wall of sound blew threw their ears and anything else that got in the way.
Eric and I share a couple of things. We are both recovered from our demons. Me, for almost 26 years. Eric for around 30. He was, at one very early point, my hero. Not for his music, but for saying things that helped get me through my early days.
Our other common bond is that we are not quitters. When he plays, he plays in pain. It would be very easy for him to retire completely. When I work, even on my best days, I work in pain. I could retire too. I won’t. Instead, we both manage it and keep going. A couple of grumpy old guys. Give us a break when we need one.
He’s playing three shows this summer. Two in Germany. One in Hyde Park, in England. Yes. We’ll be there. I honestly don’t know how much more live work he’ll do. I do not want to miss this.
I’ve missed too much. Even during the last half of 2017.
I live with two lines from another old musician, Neil Young.
“Don’t be denied.”
“The thing that makes you who you are will kill you in the end.”
I finally got a look at my back x-rays. It’s fine to read what the radiologists wrote. But, I know how to read negatives. Maybe better than the medics do. I’ve got a metal hip. I’ve got a small notch in my spine. And worse, four vertebrae that are completely ridden with osteoarthritis.
Painful? Certainly. Sometimes.
But, here’s the thing. Those vertebrae are all on my right side. The same side that I used to carry about 40 pounds of camera gear in a messenger or satchel-styled camera bag. Most photographers of my age have some kind of back, leg or neck ailment. We didn’t know better 30 or 40 years ago. Even if we did, we didn’t have many options. Today, you can buy gear bags that are simple, wrap around you, roll, make you look like you are going off to war. There’s a reason soldiers and marines wear what they do. And, unless you really need heavy gear, you can switch to lighter mirrorless equipment or smaller dslr bodies.
Between musicians news and my own mind, I started digging around in my own memories. I won’t go further. Doing that affects all of us in a different way. Sometimes, I want to put my hands over my face and just ask, “what the hell was I thinking?” Then I move forward.
The picture. What do you think? It’s symbolic. Winter. Winter in my soul.
The brightness of 2018 sure lasted a long time. 13 days.