Three Truths and No Lie
Moss Piglet, April 2023
Three Truths and No Lie
The late sixties were magical times. We made love, not war. We stopped wearing bras, in fact didn’t wear underwear at all. Too bourgeoise. We gave up shaving our legs. Wore cut-off jeans, halter tops and hiking boots, all at the same time.
We had our youth. Our freedom. And best of all, our music. Music was our world. Rock music our anthem. We’d take turns lying on the floor, heads perfectly placed between speakers, reveling in the wonder of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Iron Butterfly’s 17-minute-and-five-second one-hit opus.
Life was glorious. We went to music festivals and concerts. I saw Jimmie Hendricks perform live. I heard Bob Dylan’s back-up group, The Band, at the Filmore East. I went to Woodstock. Bragging rights for a lifetime. Anytime I’m asked for two truths and a lie, Woodstock is always one of them.
I had a dirty little secret. A big one. I didn’t really like rock. I loved the haunting, visceral melancholy of Richie Havens. I sang along with Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. I thought the Incredible String Band truly was incredible. But Bob Dylan, with his gravelly voice droning on, evocative of a rusty rasp—I wondered what the big deal was about.
Events conspired to change my mind. Jimmy Carter, a laudable human who I revered, referenced Dylan during his presidential acceptance speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. "We have an America that in Bob Dylan's phrase is busy being born, not busy dying.”
Then along came Tom Waits. His voice was arguably even raspier than Dylan’s. His message was frivolous, hysterical, and for me, understandable. Take “The Piano Has Been Drinking” for example.
The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York, the jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut, and the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone's out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make
Now that was a song I could appreciate.
I delighted in Randy Newman’s audacious “Short People.” His voice, at best, not melodic.
If Jimmy Carter loved Bob Dylan and I could embrace the work of these other guys whose voices also bordered on unbearable, Dylan deserved another look. As it turned out, Peter, Paul and Mary sang some of his songs— beautiful melodies in three-part harmony. I’d been singing Dylan’s songs all along.
That was many years ago. Living free, devoid of grasping for wealth and the good life afforded by the American dream, for many of us, got old. We grew up, put our underwear on and went back to school. Our younger selves might say we sold out.
As a hippie, I never did share my secrets. My three truths and no lie: I missed wearing frilly satin underwear. I hated the smell of patchouli oil. And, as for rock music and the likes of Bob Dylan, I longed for showtunes.