John Lennon: (Just Like) Starting Over
D'ville: Starting Over
[purchase Lennon version]
Today, on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attack, it seems apropos to offer up Bruce Springsteen’s poignant title cut from his 2002 album, “The Rising.” The song can be interpreted in various ways, but I’m certain that the profound lyrics deal with optimism even in the worst of circumstances. Springsteen’s artistic sense of purpose and vision always demonstrate strong wordplay, character development and idealism. And, nearly three decades after his masterpiece “Born to Run” was released in 1975, “The Rising” was the great rocker’s contribution of emotion and sincerity to help the Nation heal. The Boss’ first collaboration with the E Street Band in 18 years was an expression of hope and enlightenment. Springsteen’s noble statement in the powerful title cut gives us a definitive call for a fresh start.
To start anew requires a climb of many levels. In “The Rising,” a fireman is climbing a tower, but his calling is also an ascent to Heaven. When the chorus joins with “Come on up, lay your hands in mine. Come on up for the rising,” it’s a beckoning call for unity and a welcome to the other souls rising too. It’s a type of unity that the entire World needs. When Springsteen sings “Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li,” I do believe that he’s referring to another form of blessed life, one to be embraced rather than feared. He reinforces that message with the line about “a dream of life comes to me like a catfish dancin’ on the end of the line.”
Springsteen, the profound storyteller, takes a tragic event of infamy to make a triumphant statement about overcoming death and rising to life on another shore. It’s also a call for awareness of the chain that binds, the sixty-pound stone, and half mile of line that impede us. The song optimistically deals with redemption, sacrifice and courage. Despite all the sadness, tears, sorrow and fear that one may encounter, you should never lose focus of the “dream of life.” That, simply put, is what will result in a fresh start … not only for those directly impacted by tragedy but also for the entire Nation and World as peace, unity, understanding and compassion take hold on a global scale.
Colin Hay's fresh start began in 1987, with the release of his first solo album. Fifteen years later, after countless TV and movie soundtrack boosts, he fills minor-league folk clubs and hipster arenas - a true success story of the indie age.
But getting back on track after the huge international success of his first band - yes, he's the guy from Men At Work - took a while. For years, Hay toiled under the radar, on his own pocket label financed by the profits from his previous career. And for the better part of decade, it looked like nothing was going to happen. As he noted in a 2011 interview,
"Men at Work really didn't build a foundational audience. We came in as a pop band with enormous radio success; once that goes away and the band breaks up the audience tends to go away with it. You're left with what you want to make of it. When you start out doing those tours, you start again [and] you tend not to attract a very big number of people. I'd play to a hundred people or sometimes less."
In the middle of this slow burn, just before the curve ticked upwards, Hay released Man @ Work, an album calling back to his roots. The album is, frankly, one of the most beautiful I own, and a full half of the tracks are acoustic revisions of Men At Work songs, making the album a fresh start of its own: a sort of reclaiming of the old through the lens of the new, with stripped down guitar and that hoarse, yearning tenor working through the catalog, bringing regret, honesty, humility and tenderness to songs once heard as wild and raging.
But several of the songs on the album are originals. And in the midst of this hodgepodge of backwards and forwards, you can find Colin's ode to the complexities of starting from scratch, rich with the peace and stillness, the frustrations and quixotic futilities of a career going nowhere, a paean to the man on the shore, his dreams bigger than life, his friends' voices echoing in his ears like the surf, still waiting for his ship to come in.
He's already got a plan, you see. He can see it, just out of reach. It's just that it depends on the world to come to him.
And when, a year later, actor/director Zach Braff decided to champion his work on Scrubs and in the soundtrack to Garden State, it did. The Internet took hold of his songs, and started passing them around. Today, a new generation of fans know Colin Hay as a middle-aged folksinger of sorts, whose ability to put words and soulful sound to the eye of the storm of life is impeccable. He releases his albums on Compass, a label better known for Celtic and folk music. And he seems happy, and at peace.
Some of his younger fans don't even know he was that guy from Men At Work. And maybe that's the way it should be.