Hear me that I love a dance! Simply ain’t nothing else on this earth like live, from the source music. I’m partial to a full electric sound, with the vibrations so strong they thicken the air, pulsing from the speakers as visible energy. Into that soup I dive and into the groove I ascend. The moment opens up. Virtuality reigns.
I come to music as one might an ancient oracle. I come with questions and curiosities. I come bearing gifts. I am rewarded with rejuvenation, inspiration, communion.
Back in the 1990’s I received a consistent vision at shows of a woman bending over an old phonograph. She was dressed in a 1950’s habit, one of those cute housewife dresses with a short, crinoline skirt and cinched around the waist with a big bow. I could hear the record on the turntable slowing down, making that wa-wa-wa noise. Then the lady picked up the record, turned it over, glanced at the label and set it back down, fitting the middle hole neatly over the little nub at the center of the turntable. Giving the crank on the side a few good rotations, she dropped the needle to the spinning vinyl.
As this vision played out, I had a strong impression of our culture, our way of life, as that record. And I felt awed to be alive and present for that moment in history when a side A has wound down and a side B is slowly cranking up.
Fast forward to 2011 and a Furthur show on April Fool’s Day at the excellent Hampton Coliseum. It came in the middle of a song called He’s Gone, which you can listen to below. Perhaps it was the dirge-like pace of the tune that day, but it felt decidedly like I was a participant in a funeral parade that marched that old way of being right out of town.
There was the street, littered with bits of confetti and fragments of outmoded ideas. And there we were, dancing. Liberated and feeling mischievous, proud. I couldn’t help but sway my skirts and wave bye-bye, a huge smile on my face.
I witness evidence around me daily of a new culture being born. I encounter it in Durham’s thriving farmer’s markets. I eat it the scrambled eggs from my neighbor’s chickens. I am reading about it in the works of my age-peers such as Stephen Wren’s book The Sustainable Underground, in which he explores alternative ways of living now being engaged by people across the United States.
I am hearing it in the voices of all of those who are doing work to disintegrate distortions that no longer serve — such as the distortion that says one culture is better than another; that says that one religion is better than another; that says one race is better than another; that says one gender is better than another; that says one sexual orientation is better than another. Walls are tumbling down, there is no end in sight.
It is a time of great hope, but we must also remember that for many it is a time of grieving. For that is the nature of rebirth: it follows on the heels of a death. And despite the new bouncing baby, that death is surely felt as a keen loss to someone still living. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief do apply to the death of cultures. I believe we can expect to see as many examples of denial and isolation, anger, bargaining and depression as we do acceptance.
People are going to need healing. People are going to need modeling. Like the slaves who fled in the South’s darkness following the drinking gourd to new freedoms, those who boldly go where no human has gone before — either in thought or deed — hold a light by which others can see into the dark. We would be foolish to underestimate the power of changing possibilities. It is, rather, a significant form of activism, a formidable weapon.
To those living along the watchtower and birthing this new culture in unique and myriad ways, I offer my deepest gratitude. And to those hesitating on the fringes, I say, “Come out, come out wherever you are!” Visit your oracle, let it hold you so close to the creative fires of infinite possibility that you can’t help but to feel the heat. Go for strength. Go for the certain courage that you can create a world anew, your world. Show up as well to pay homage to your oracle, to sustain it as it sustains you.
And so I dance. As my feet pound the earth I know I am tracing steps as primal and ancient as the cosmos. I am giving my energy to these patterns, these patterns that I want to remain here, no matter the songs that are on this one side B. I know I have done this many, many times before, in many different skins through countless lifetimes. And I trust too that I will one day dance with the seven generations to come.
With a grateful tip of the hat to all of the musicians and people who make the music possible; and to zygoat420 and dschram1 on YouTube for making the recordings I’m sharing, I leave you where else but in music’s good hands. Here’s a kick ass 2009 version of Leadfoot’s Ripe — all hail my hood’s rock hero.
(It’s okay to dance to it in your kitchen. I promise, no one is looking.)
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2013.