Oh; I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again
– James Taylor, Fire and Rain
Do you know the story?
He was on the road a lot, playing gigs. He was despondent, being separated from his girlfriend Suzanne for long stretches.
They were to be married. Build a life together. They spent hours on the phone. Talking about things to come. Sweet dreams.
Their friends arranged for her to fly out to join him.
She never did.
Enroute to him, her plane crashed.
Sweet dreams, and flying machines, in pieces, on the ground.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?
Omigosh yes …
But not true.
And do you know what I find really interesting?
My reaction to learning that.
* * * * *
I, along with legions of fans, collectively developed that scenario from the lyrics. Perhaps it is the power of imagination. Perhaps it is the compulsion we have as human beings to search for meaning in everything we experience.
Perhaps it is our flair for the dramatic; I mean omigosh! how gut wrenching and sad that story is; furthermore, oh! the irony! that capturing that tragic event in lyric and song, with it’s implication of life-threatening depression, would provide the lift of his career and his life …
Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is — we, collectively, made it up.
What he did, in writing the song, was piece together people and experiences and feelings drawn from his life. He very cleverly crafted a scenario.
His creative license and supple storytelling pulled us in … and boy did we go all in …
If you want to dive a little deeper into the fiction and the facts, go here.
* * * * *
Does the fact that the song doesn’t represent something real diminish the experience for you?
It did for me.
Upon learning that the story I believed behind the song wasn’t true, I went into denial. It had to be true! It was so compelling!
Then I was upset. Angry. Duped! Then profoundly disappointed. (Fire and rain; kind of.)
But that reaction has subsided. I’ve come to terms with it; and I still do like the song.
But my relationship with the song — my experience with it — is very different now. I no longer have the momentary emotional gut reaction upon hearing it every. single. time.
I now simply appreciate the artistry. But, alas, it’s a dispassionate appreciation.
* * * * *
My pondering of this takes me several different directions. There may need to be a follow-on post.
I’m wondering what your reaction is, and what your pondering provokes …
So what is your reaction? What does your pondering conjure up?