Sunday, April 10, 2016

If I had a hammer...

If you're my age, or a little older, you probably can't read that line without getting an ear worm; it's the first line of a folk song that was very popular during my childhood.

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
And I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Last night we went to see Peter and Paul -- but not Mary, as she passed away in 2009 -- the folk singers who made that song so famous back in the day.

It was a treat to go; at work, we are sometimes offered free tickets to local events that take place at venues the hotel is associated with. They are first come/first served when announced via a company-wide email. I normally don't see the emails for these giveaways in time -- but Friday, I did, so Dennis and I found ourselves at the Pikes Peak Center last night for the show!
We had really great seats.  The Pikes Peak Center is a small venue so when you see shows there, they always feel intimate.  I was reminded of how nice it is to live near a little city like Colorado Springs.  We can get to an event like this in about 1/2 an hour from our home, park for free just down the block, and enjoy the show as part of a small audience.  This in comparison to the San Francisco bay area where we used to live, where nothing is close by, parking is difficult and expensive, and you are always fighting a crowd.

I wish I could have gotten some photos of the concert -- but the lighting was poor; here's what they looked like, though, from one of their ads:
Sometimes I joke about what I call "geezer rock" -- older performers, gone gray and off the grid for years, who reunite to tour and play for nostalgic crowds.  This show was certainly like that, but I didn't find it cheesy like I expected to; instead, it made my heart happy to hear these two very old men sing ballads that were so popular when I was a child. The music brought back the late 1960's and early 1970's feeling I'd forgotten.  It awakened memories of a time when I was small -- short and closer to the ground, always looking up at the world,  and always on foot. Days seemed to go on and on and on back then. My clearest memory of that time is of afternoons at my grandmother's house in San Francisco, the summer that all of my uncles were returning home from Vietnam.  They all came back dressed in green uniforms, very thin, and with eyes that were faraway and tired.  There was joy and relief because they came home safe, but also despair that everyone tried to ignore: big, dark clouds that followed so many people around.  And there were new words and phrases to learn, spoken in hushed tones; words like shell shock, POWs, and dope-smoking.  These words were uttered and then floated up and got stuck in the dark clouds.

Through all of that, it was Peter, Paul and Mary's songs providing the background music: Puff the Magic Dragon, Blowin' in the Wind, This Land is Your Land, Where Have All the Flowers Gone.  They were simple songs that everyone learned and sang, together.  We don't do that much anymore, do we?

Well -- we did last night, at the concert.  It was fun.  And thought-provoking.  Among the things Peter and Paul commented on was the ugly way that politicians are speaking to each other these days, and how children are listening to their awful examples.  It made me re-think my disdain for political correctness.  I, who am such a fan of telling it like it is, and truth. It reminded me that there is a wisdom in being gentle -- gentility is something I've lost track of over the last several years, and I'm not sure why; so I'm thinking about that, too.

I think what stuck with me most last night after the concert was the last line of the Hammer Song: I'd sing about the love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.  It reminded me that there was a time when I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a small television set, and watched a commercial for a soft drink where people stood on a hillside and sang, I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.  It really happened -- I was there, I remember it, and it made me feel safe and happy.  So I wonder now, why don't we talk about each other as our brothers and sisters anymore?  And, what happened to those people who did -- those that wanted to change the world?  Without even knowing it, I realized I am very nostalgic for those days.


Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Wow, I couldn't have said this better! Love this post and the Peter, Paul and Mary memories. I saw a special on PBS not too long ago and enjoyed every old tune!!

Peggy Jones said...

I love their music and yes I am an old geezer. Didn't really know that Mary passed. I love the old tunes but my favorite these days is Yanni have him playing on Pandora all the time. Old geezer, new ager. WooHoo

Kathy said...

I loved reading this. Well said, my friend!

Sami said...

Probably slightly younger than you but I do remember some of these songs.
It's wonderful to go to a concert by singers from our generation and hear those lovely tunes, so much better than the thump thump thump of most of today's singers...

Jacob William said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Janet Ghio said...

I saw Peter Paul and Mary in 1963 in concert. I was a freshman in college. They were wonderful and such idealistic songs.There are still idealists out there and those who fight the good fight for justice and equality for everyone and love, not war. They are just harder to hear above the din of bigotry and hate that is so prevalent today.

Linda said...

You're looking great Laurie, nice pic. Remember those songs well. Love, peace, brotherhood.

"Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end....."

Cheers, Linda.

Pallas said...

I love your post, and it brought back all the feelings I had as a young person. I could remember the feelings I had not only of singing the lyrics of Peter, Paul and Mary songs, but also the gentle feelings the "like to teach the world to sing" ad invoked. I'm not sure what happened to our world, except that somehow the gentle feelings of people have been drowned out by the radical people of the world. It is hard to promote gentleness when the radicals are so loud. Thanks for your gentle post Laurie.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Oh I remember that song, I also remember singing it in a parked car with a boyfriend many years ago LOL

Handmade in Israel said...

What a great post! You've got me singing... Glad you enjoyed the concert and your evening of nostalgia.

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

A very heartfelt and well written post. I too think back fondly on the 70s and the music. Songs where we could actually hear every word and sing along with meaning and emotion. Being honest and up front is a good thing. Inciting hate and rage and being belligerent and disrespectful is another. The current presidential race is a joke around the world. How can grown folk stand up there, acting that way and be expected to run a country with civility? I don't get it at all.