I’ve invited a retired Navy Seal into my life and he’s got me doing some interesting things. Like this morning — instead of poking around in the kitchen — I was in the basement at 5:30 am. I wasn’t down there to get a loaf of bread from the chest freezer. I had real business to take care of — concerning my heart. I wanted it to beat fast. Like any muscle, it gets stronger with exercise.
I sprayed some silicone onto an old shoe polishing rag and buffed the slide board before slipping fawn-brown, nylon knee-highs over my royal blue/lime green running shoes. I fumbled for Pandora on my phone. Do you know how many apps have a capital P in their little square? On my phone, I’ve got Pandora, Payflex and Pinterest.
Choosing a station was a tough decision. It felt too early to rock it out and so I chose James Taylor. Pandora’s kind of tricky that way because I didn’t get a JT song. Rather, I got another artist from the same genre and it was a killer.
Understand — when I slide board, I time myself by the song. I do quirky things like that. My husband called me out on it one day when I explained Mara and I had walked all the way to my favorite log. Who talks like that — favorite log? he asked. Anyhow, I measure my work out in songs.
Take a guess as to what song came up first? Ugh, I hate it when people ask me to guess something I could never possibly guess. I’ll just tell you, but wait, you didn’t figure it out from the title of this story, did you? Okay, I’ll just tell you. The song was American Pie by Don McLean.
Do you know how looooooong that song is?
I’ll tell you — it’s just over eight and a half minutes. That’s asking a lot for 5:30 in the morning — without coffee. But — Jocko was chirping in my ear and I kept swishing back and forth for the whole song.
Who’s Jocko? Oh! He’s the Navy Seal who wrote Discipline Equals Freedom. Do you think he’d be glad to know he’s got a 50 year old Wisconsin recruit falling in step? Of course he would — that’s why he wrote the book — to help people recognize their potential.
So when I heard the lyrics, I met a girl who sang the blues — And I asked her for some happy news — She just smiled and turned away, the idea bulb started flashing in my head. I didn’t understand its Morse code, but I did what writers are supposed to do and jotted a note on a spiral bound pad. Some people use the paper to keep track of reps and stuff — not me. When I pick up the tablet and pen from the old oak end table next to the treadmill, it’s to jot down ideas — no matter how half-baked.
I met a girl who sang the blues — And I asked her for some happy news — She just smiled and turned away
I’ve a bit of nostalgia for American Pie. Let’s just say that I spent a fair amount of time singing along with the jukebox while standing on top of a wooden picnic table in a dive bar — in the heart of a small college town. There might have been beer in plastic cups.
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Idea — what are we going to say about those lines?
Don McLean was twelve years old when a plane crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa — 1959. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed along with their pilot Roger Peterson. Don was a paper boy AND an aspiring musician when he cut open a stack of newspapers and coined the term — the day the music died.
Twelve years passed between the musician’s deaths and American Pie’s release in 1971 — twelve long years of idea and creativity percolating in McLean’s mind.
There’s been a whole lot of speculation regarding McLean’s use of cultural references. Just what did he mean?
American Pie? The jester sang for the king and queen? Pink carnation and a pick-up truck? A generation lost in space? Jack be nimble — Jack be quick? And who was the girl singing the blues?
I didn’t know when I sang along in the 80’s and I still don’t know today. What I do know is McLean said,
It was a song about America. The fact that people were drawn into the song as a result of symbols I chose to use was the reason I chose to use the symbols in the first place.
Ideas are like that. Sometimes they show up and run the show. The creator is left scratching their temple wondering how they got from here to there.
Now if you’ll excuse me…it’s 6:11 am…one day later…
Jocko’s reminding me about my running shoes.
Isn’t our quirkiness wonderful?