"Feel Free" Concert in Central Park, 9/23/09
A couple of months ago I sat with some friends on a blanket in the East Meadow of Central Park, watching as Mayor Bloomberg, Adam Arkin, some government officials and select park rangers encouraged us to watch Ken Burns' new documentary about our National Parks.
It was interesting, this park prattle, but we were there for the musical acts.
[We will not - repeat NOT - discuss the final musical act of the evening, the one we missed because we had to go home and eat dinner, the one we missed because we reasoned that we needed to get to bed early, the one we missed because we got bored of staring at still photos of bearded men who discovered such-and-such-a-cave in Somewhere, Nebraska and we gave up and went home, narrowly missing historic greatness. No we will not - we CANNOT - discuss that. The pain of regret still stings too sharply.]
What we can discuss is the opening act - Counting Crows. They were joined by the group Augustana, and they began with a cover of Van Morrison's "Caravan," and that song...their voices...the night air...the park views...made me so very happy there in that moment.
There is some kind of comforting continuity in Adam Duritz’s voice.
It calls back to High School Kristy, who knew every word of “Mr. Jones” without knowing what it all meant, and who impatiently awaited the advent of her twenties, when she would be her own person and no one would be able to tell her what to do.
And it connects her to 2009 Kristy (Adult Kristy? Manhattan Kristy? Corporate Drone Kristy?) who still knows every word of “Mr. Jones” and wonders where her twenty-something years done been gone to, who is still working out the details of the person she’s becoming, and who – most days – just wishes someone would tell her what to do already.
The freedom & responsibility of choice can be overwhelming, 2009 Kristy admits. She can’t communicate that to High School Kristy, though. High School Kristy doesn’t trust anyone over thirty.
But the two selves, old & new, reconciled in a time-warp way while listening to “Rain King” under the fading-summer sky, in the park in the center of the city that High School Kristy dreamt about, and that 2009 Kristy made her own.
So thanks, Adam Duritz, for lending your voice as a link to my past and an aid to enjoying my present day.
And thanks, Ken Burns, for your epic homage to our National Parks. Although your claim that the park system is/was America's "best idea" is debatable. Did you even consider Marshmallow Fluff as a contender for that title? Think about it, good sir, and get back to me.