Sometimes, traveling into the past is personal, a journey through decades rather than centuries. The history of your own lifetime takes you as far back as memory can go even though, in countable years, it isn’t very far.
I made that kind of journey last night, across the Bay to San Francisco and into a room filled with perhaps 300 people who ranged in age from 35 to 80. There was a man wheelchair-bound. There was a woman with the flowing hair, long skirt and sandals of a flower child. The faces around me were genial, expectant, even a little adoring. We were all gazing into our very personal pasts.The room angled down towards a low stage – so low that those seated in the front row which, miraculously, included me, could rest our feet upon it. Stage right held a grand piano. Beside it, center stage, stood a mic, a 12 string guitar, and Judy Collins. The woman is 72, still beautiful, and still with an instantly recognizable and strikingly lovely voice. The only other person visible on the stage was her pianist, but there were ghosts all around, in the echoing notes of so many songs from a half century ago. Baez, Mitchell, Cohen, Dylan, Stills, Lennon – they were all there. Coded into the lyrics and the melodies were memories of the faces and places of my youth. I was listening to the soundtrack of my life as sung by Judy Blue Eyes.
And the echo of those memories still lingers.
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