Sunday, September 13, 2015
Ian and Sylvia "Four Strong Winds"
[Editor's Note: my "track of the week" series is continuing this week, but I'm no longer including the name of the series in the title, since it makes the article titles rather cumbersome for social media purposes.]
I turned 40 last week. While it was great to have a night out on the town with my wife, it prompted some bittersweet thoughts, and not all of them about aging. When my parents had their 40th birthdays, they hosted big blowout parties at our house with casino games, play money, and an auction at the end of the night. All of their friends came over in a great show of good cheer. (I was 14 when my mom turned 40 and got to deal some blackjack for the occasion.) I'd always thought my 40th would be like that, but my friends are far too scattered to the four corners of the country and even the world to be around for such a thing. They are as far flung as Pretoria, South Africa, and Amarillo, Texas.
I guess this is the nature of making your strongest friendships in graduate school, where you are basically ensured to end up somewhere you never expected once you get out. (I am lucky to have a couple of my grad school compatriots working in the Big Apple, though.) Seeing many of my friends during my travels this summer was a harsh reminder that I have had to say way too many good-byes over the last decade, from leaving grad school in Illinois to leaving Michigan to leaving Texas. It was great to meet so many wonderful people in all of those places, but it's hard knowing that the people I'd most like to have a beer with or shoot the shit with live thousands of miles away from me.
When I am feeling like a Sad Sack Dad after I put my daughters to sleep on a night like this, feeling the cool autumn air on my screened-in back porch, I like to listen to "Four Strong Winds" by Ian and Sylvia. I am a sucker for 60s folk music, especially by Canadians and even more especially by male-female duos. This song is among the very few that will bring me to tears each time that I hear it, since it evokes the feeling of saying goodbye to good people more than any other. These ending lines just say it all: "But our good times are all gone/ and I'm bound for moving on/ I'll look for you if I'm ever back this way."
Songwriter Ian Tyson was a bonafide cowboy and rodeo rider from British Columbia before becoming a singer, and being a scholar, like being a cowboy (or a folk singer, for that matter), is an itinerant existence in this day and age. I for one am glad that my rambling days are over and that I now spend days with my wife and daughers and that I even have a back porch for resting on. Be that as it may, there is not a single day that goes by that I don't think about many amazing people that I've had to say good-bye to along the way.