One day during my junior year in high school, Mrs. Faircloth, our AP English Language and Composition teacher, took us to one of the A/V rooms adjacent to the library. She was an unashamed, flagrant fan of the Moody Blues. She had pictures of the band in her classroom; she’d share stories with us of concerts she attended. She was completely obsessed with Justin Hayward. I’d never known anyone really like that.
When Mrs. Faircloth led us into that room, we sat on the carpeted floor. No chairs were set up. The walls were light blue, if memory serves, just like all the walls and hallway of the English wing. She instructed us to listen, and since we were sprawled on the floor, we didn’t listen very well. She began to play some songs of the Moody Blues – they might have been from a CD, but most likely from cassette tapes.
The Moody Blues’ music is pretty catchy; their career high point was back in the ’70s . Their songs are longing, nostalgic, ethereal. Their songwriting is strong and quickly evokes the imagination, especially when combined with compelling melodies and instrumentation.
Our class lay on the floor, occasionally whispering, while the music played. I didn’t catch the names of the any of the songs; I didn’t take any notes on lyrics, and I don’t know if my classmates did, either.
Mrs. Faircloth turned off the music. Class was over. She had us sit up and gave us an assignment. What I thought was a relaxing day in English class suddenly turned into a point of anxiety. Only one or two tunes stuck in my mind, and I paid enough attention only to remember a line or two of lyrics. The assignment was due the next day.
I’m not sure today what the exact assignment was. But, an idea came to mind, and while I knew I wouldn’t be following directions, I knew I had to stick to the idea. I had to follow through with it. I wrote it, I turned it in.
The piece received an A-. Mrs. Faircloth’s comment, in her perfect cursive, on the last page: “Excellent [underscored four times] piece of writing, which does (via implication and audience familiarity with music) touch the whole context. Only one song, however, if named.” Hee. Imagine if I’d only followed directions. Or actually paid attention. So, here’s something I wrote fifteen years ago. It’s wordy, suffering from severe passive voice, and full of itself. I’m not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed or to enjoy the nostalgia the way it is. Here it is, with typo corrections, because I wrote the piece late into the night on an actual typewriter. Back in 1993. At least it was electric. Sweet.
Here we are, on the earth, living. We are looking up at the sky, listening to the birds, letting time pass. On this earth, each of us is living in our own encapsulated worlds, surrounded by our own happy thoughts. There seem to be no problems. As children, we were sheltered by our parents: we were fed, we were nurtured, we were loved. Our parents taught us about right and wrong, about being happy. We had our dreams about going to college, marrying, and having a wonderful family. At least that was what we were taught to dream. That was our ultimate dream, to be happy; that was our purpose in life, TO BE HAPPY. Or was it? Here we are living in our own worlds, looking up at the sky, thinking happy thoughts, letting time pass.
Wait a minute. Having not seen the outside world as children, we seem to assume the worlds around us, the people around us, possess the same things, values, in their worlds as we do in ours. Then we start to grow, and we start to look outside of our worlds, and when we do, we are astonished. Why is it when we look into each other’s worlds that everything seems so different? Something that is wrong to one person is right to another. One person’s dream is different than another person’s dream. The more we look out of our own worlds, the more we realize each of us is different. We become confused. Were we so occupied in our own worlds that we have become oblivious to the worlds around us? Has our “provinciality” caused us to be scared? Our thoughts are not so happy anymore. We are wondering, “Why is everyone different? What are their dreams? Do those dreams involve me? Is that why I am here?” We are wandering, searching for the answers to our questions. The more we wander, the more different kinds of people we find, the more problems we find, the more questions we ask. Look at this world! It is overwhelming. We feel that we are about to crumble under its weight. Why aren’t my questions being answered?! How are our dreams supposed to come true? We have forgotten what our dreams are. As a result, we are angry, confused; searching for answers to questions, searching for our dreams, letting time pass.
We cannot help it if times passes, can we? Certainly, with all the problems that have been found in this world, it seems as if we are battling against time. However, without the passing of time, there can be no progression. We cannot help it if time passes, can we? No. That is one question answered, that is one less question about which we have to worry. Even having only one quesiton answered seems to make us feel that the life we are living is not in vain. What satisfaction, what happiness is created from just one answer! Happiness: isn’t that what we wanted? Wasn’t that our dream – to be HAPPY? Yes, now we remember. However that one solution was temporary, it created a temporary happiness. In order to lengthen our happiness, we need to continue to look for answers to our questions. By doing this, we may be be setting ourselves up for discouragement. However, risks must be taken in order for us to learn, to progress. Some answers we will find, some we will not. In our seemingly endless search, we may encounter someone with a similar world, with similar values. That someone may be the person in whom we trust, in whom we find encouragement, in whom we gain spiritual strength, whom we grow to love. That someone may be the person with whom we can look for answers, with whom we can increase our happiness. We will be teaching our children to create their own worlds, as our parents taught us. Our children will look out of their worlds, into the big, overwhelming world, and begin to learn for themselves, as we did, as time passes.
Along with the passing of time is the changing of mood, the formation of patterns. As children we seem to be happy, and as we live through adolescence, our views about life change, because we can see the world in which we all live. We ask more questions, which results in confusion. We grow older, and we get more content with life as we get more answers. We have children, and they seem to grow up asking the same questions we asked. Their children will have the same attitudes, and they will ask the same questions. This is the pattern that is formed with the passing of time.
Throughout the durations of the songs of the Moody Blues, there is the obvious pattern of “mood” swings in the music. It is the music which creates the mood of the songs, whose meanings are further intensified by the addition of words that “fit” the music. Most of the songs the Moody Blues produce start with music that is smooth, usually orchestral music, which creates a relaxed, content feeling. Then the music shifts to a faster tempo, and it is more aggresive, with the drums and electric guitars, creating a somewhat confused and tense feeling; then the music shifts again to contentedness.
One such song with this pattern contains the words, “Look out of my window, see the world passing by.” The music which is with these words is peaceful, until the congeries starting with “desolation,” where the music speeds up. Until then we are only “looking out of our windows.” The music is fast through the list of ideas which we experience, of which, “confusion” is a part. This implies that we have stepped out of our windows and are experiencing the world. The list ends in a “solution,” which brings us back to the slower, smoother music, which recreates a feeling of peace. The three to four minutes this song lasts, the song itself, is analogous to life: for time passes as the song is being sung, and the mood of the song changes as time passes, just our moods change with the passing of time. The words and music follow a pattern from slow/content to fast/confused to slow/content. And since the song follows a pattern, it could be sung in a continuous round, just as our lives, events in our lives, tend to repeat themselves. This song, like many other songs by the Moody Blues, is not only about life. The song has a life of its own: it changes moods in its duration. It appears short in length, but since it is patternous it can go on forever. No matter how differently each of us lives, each of us is living a pattern. We are here, in this world, living life, asking questions, seeking answers, changing our moods, letting time pass.