While going through my current lyric portfolio it suddenly dawned on me how many of the romantic idealisms featured in my songs were directly attributable to those innocent days of childhood when, like most of us of the era, I was highly receptive to new experiences. It then struck me that so many children of today are starved of the freedom I had back in the 60’s and 70’s and do not experience the carefree run of the world that I enjoyed so much. What then would they have to draw on should they decide to become song writers when they are older.
I have four children ranging from 26 years down to 5 years as a result of two marriages. My elder two shared some of the lifestyle I knew, back in the country on the farm, as my dad was still working at that point. Now he has long retired and my youngest two do not have access to all that comes with open spaces, animals and country ways. My youngest son adores being outside in the open air, but his domain is a garden measuring about 30ft square. My back garden amounted to over 300 acres and prior to that over 800 acres. How can he experience all that I enjoyed in such a Petri dish of an environment?
One of my favourite lyrics “Free Wind Riding” tells of the joy I gained from climbing to the top of a grass hill behind my house and looking out across the local town. There was always a breeze it seemed, and on really windy days I could stand at the edge of the hill, my coat flung open like wings and literally lean into the wind – its power holding me aloft like a bird on the wing. As I relate in the song, not only was that exhilarating but it was also a very spiritual experience. To be held safely by an invisible force was like being in the hands of God and made it so much easier to believe in the existence of such.
Other songs relate to all manner of first loves, hard work in the fields, real family values etc and unique times that I would have loved for them to share now before they grow up, past the point of innocence, that makes reception to such natural wonder even more profound and impressive on the growing and evolving man / woman within the child.
Of course, my children are loved and they do many things in these modern times that I never did in my childhood. But do the modern day play alternatives of computer games and DVD’s really offer a fair alternative to going out on your bike with a sandwich and a bottle of pop to go fishing for the day, without your mother worrying herself to death that you would fall in and be drowned or abducted by a pervert?
It is so easy to fall into the role of protecting our children that we can fail to realise that our cotton wool cosseting can starve them of essential freedoms. Freedoms that enable access to “life” and all the teaching and colour it can bring to the job of building a depth of character that equips us to vocalise and build lyrics that are both truthful and recognisable as “genuine”.
I wonder what tomorrows songs will be like when today’s children try to draw from first hand experiences in order to write of love and life. How many will exchange a tale of a first kiss for the story of a high score on a play station?