After the Goldrush
To get the full effect of this Rant play Neil Young’s song
as you read it. Link:
The heart aches for those long gone, taken by death or simply removed by time and space. The plaintive voice of loneliness sings its solo on the dimly lit stage of the soul, calling the names of those now absent. Sadness is then cradled with the ambivalence of poignancy, a disturbingly satisfying lowlands amble.
It’s odd how some songs will remain fixed in a specific time and place. It can become glued to a singular spot in the memory and invoke a long-ago scene in detail, returning us to even the barometric pressure of the very moment in which the song is fixed.
I have listened to “After the Goldrush” by Neil Young, hundreds if not thousands of times over the decades. Even so, every time I am transported to a singular moment. I was a sophomore in college sitting in an old leather chair of dorm room chic, headphones closing off the world around, repeatedly replacing the needle on the vinyl to hear the song over and over and over again. Whatever homework I was reading is lost in space, although I remember a book in my lap. I was wandering around in the loneliness of a life transition, free-floating into an unknown future. My college was closing and I would have to transfer.
I had lost the community of friends from high school as we scattered never to reform, and now I was about to lose the new community I had come to adore. Peering back through the glass of memory it is easy to see I had discovered the delicious qualities of melancholy and “Goldrush” became its soundtrack. Throughout the years I have used it to accompany me in unwanted and unanticipated loneliness, to evoke melancholy when thirsting for its nectar, and just to catch a whiff of its bouquet when more than that would be too much.
Melancholy and the gratuitous browsing through memory is a drug of sorts, one that should be used judiciously and even rarely. It is quite difficult to gage the dosage and too easy to become drunk and dependent upon its company. Ah, yet one more delectable thing that is hazardous to our health. Hmmm.
©R Cameron Miller