Sunday, January 08, 2017

D E T A C H E D: As a Walking Song

The name Detached first came to me as what to call a stoned-out, one-time-only magazine project. Mostly, it was a trip to San Francisco in early-1981 that gave me the inspiration. Spending an hour looking at a ton of artsy, one-off publications of all sorts on the magazine rack in the famous City Lights Bookstore did the trick.

In the spring of '81 Detached was becoming a collection of comix-style art created by several artists. It was also to include a flexi-disc, so I was writing material with music and comedy for it. A small group of us even rehearsed some of it once or twice. Now such a concept might be called a book-zine, or something like that.

Although some good material was created and submitted, this was one of those far-flung projects that got away from me. Sadly, it was never produced. Yes, I still feel guilty about it. Somewhere in a box I still have a few of the submissions. Fortunately, some of the material and ideas for Detached did make their way into issues of SLANT later on ... but that's another story.

In the spring of 1985, Detached, as a title, became the name for a song. It was one of those songs I invented during a walk. It was a practice that started when I was a kid, then went on for decades -- I used to sometimes make up songs in the course of solitary walks. The cadence of my steps would serve as the beat, for singing them softly to myself or just in my head.

When I finished the walk I'd almost always forget the new song. Sometimes it was quite frustrating, because I had liked it. Other thoughts, like solutions, inventions, schemes and so forth, would stick in my head long enough to be written down when I got home. But most of the time these walking songs refused to be gathered.

Alas, although I do tend to see everything in life as if it's a movie, too often what's going on in my head is more like a kaleidoscope than a narrative story. So those walking songs were like dreams that fade away moments after waking up. Like those rare dreams that have remained coherent hours or days later, only a few of my walking songs stayed assembled in my head, so I could remember the tune ... much less write down the words. 

With regard to walking alone, I've generally put extra trust in ideas that came to me during a purposeful walk. Something about the rhythm would make tunes, sometimes with words, pop into my head. Today I have to smile at the thought of missing the private sense of delight those walking songs gave me. Here are the words to Detached, the song:  

I want to thank you pal
for helping out
While I went crazy.

It wasn’t all fun
It just had to be done.

Beauty mark and a ponytail
Your check’s in the mail.


When I could close my eyes
And float away
Life seemed so easy.

Watching tides of fashion
Riding waves of passion.

Smokey edges of a photograph
We just had to laugh.

With this one I still remember the tune. It usually has a south-of-the-border rhythm to it. Sometimes I still whistle it while I'm walking, but I don't sing any songs to myself much, anymore. Hardly ever play my chromatic harmonica along with canned music that calls out to me, either. My neighbors are probably happy about that.

Now I use Detached as a title for a group of short stories. To see about them go here.

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