Fire and Rain

Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Today, we left the cabin. Our car was obscenely full. We already had too much stuff in the car on the way there, but the way home was worse. Though we had less food with us, we had to bring our garbage home, so that meant fitting into the car things like empty water jugs. We also had to take some of the towels and sheets to bring home and wash (there’s no washer at the cabin – unless you count the lake).

After driving about 20 minutes, we stopped off in Taylor’s Falls. We dined at the Chisago House Restaurant, which my wife says she used to go to with her grandparents when she was just a whipper-snapper. Owen ordered the all-you-can-eat salad bar. This is kind of a waste on a kid, because kids don’t gorge themselves on as much as they can possibly fit into their gut like good, grown-up Americans do. But I figured it was a good idea, because then he would eat everything on his plate, even if it was just lettuce and grapes or some other odd combination of food.

When we arrived home, we unloaded the car, tossed about a hundred pounds worth of laundry downstairs, grabbed the thirty or so pieces of mail off our porch, made sure the cat was still alive, and put away our cabin supplies. I also grabbed my phone and turned it on for the first time in five days. I had one message: an offer for a free cup of yogurt from a local dessert shop. Oh man, I really learned my lesson. I have got to take my phone with me next time I’m on vacation.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012
While up at the cabin, I read a book titled Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970. I didn’t even know this book existed until a week ago when I came home from work and it was sitting on the kitchen counter and my wife said that her mom brought it over. It’s my dad-in-law’s book, and he thought I would like to read it.

Well, I did like to read it.

But it’s really strange.

The author tries (oh so painfully tries) to weave together four disparate musical acts as they progressed through a single year. Why 1970 was chosen, I’m not sure why. I think the year was a particularly nostalgic one for the author. It also, obviously, represented the end of the 60s. It was also the only year that all four of these acts were famous (well, of course, they’ve all been famous in subesequent years, too, but two of them no longer existed).

In trying to talk about just 1970 though, the author really has to stretch his story. The first chapter begins with January 1970, but even then, then author has to take us back into 1969 to bring us up to speed. Because, let’s face it, it’s not like everyone just begins fresh on January first every year. At the other end of the book, he tries to find some way to wrap up the stories, but there’s no good way to do it. It’s not like their stories all ended on December 31. The Beatles, in fact, broke up way back in April and Simon and Garfunkel broke up back in the summer.

I’m not sure why he chose these four music acts, either. They’re all great acts that I love, and reading the book made me want to get more of their music. But what do they all have in common? Like I said above, two of the acts broke up that year, but a third act (CSNY) just continued on, and a fourth act (Taylor) just began his career. They’re not all bands, since one is a solo act. They’re not all American, or British. And they weren’t all at their height of fame that year. The author points out some links, but it’s forced – for example, he concludes one chapter on the Beatles by noting that a few days later, Paul McCartney went to a concert to see James Taylor. Turn the page and – presto! – the next chapter is about James Taylor. Weird.

So here’s what I’ll say about this book: It’s four good books, but one so-so book. Does that make sense?

Anyway, this morning, when I got in my car for the first time since last Thursday and turned on te radio, guess what song was playing?

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