Both Sides Now

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.

Joni Mitchell

I first posted this on August 3, 2017. I think of the comment Grammie made about the music very often, as I’m thinking the same thing about the music listened to by my grands.

When I was in my early 20s and living with my parents in Leadville, Colorado (VERY early 20s and not for very long, so don’t start snickering), I recall one morning I was watching early morning television, probably the Today Show. That was back in the day when the Today Show actually was only a couple of hours long and they really did feature some news. Barbara Walters hosted, as I recall.

Anyway, I didn’t normally sit around idly watching morning television as I did have that thing called a J-O-B. But I turned it on that morning because one of my favorite musicians/singers of the time was going to perform – Judy Collins. She had recently come out with her Judith album, and I loved her voice and the music on that particular album. I liked a lot of that kind of music in those days – James TaylorCarole KingJessie Colin YoungCarly SimonCat Stevens. Oddly, not Joni Mitchell, though Both Sides Now is one of the songs I frequently attempt to sing (particularly when I’m with my grandkids looking at clouds) and always fail. Lots of highs and lows, I’m afraid. Much like Joni Mitchell’s life. But I digress.

Anyway, on this particular morning, my grandmother was watching television with me. Grammie mostly kept her opinions to herself, but when she felt strongly about something, she didn’t hesitate to comment. Judy Collins was performing Send in the Clowns, a song I particularly liked from the album Judith. Grammie listened for a little bit. Finally, I heard her sigh heavily, and she said to me in her strongly accented Swiss dialect, “Ehhhhhh, Krisily, is dat moosik?”

At that moment, I believe Grammie felt she was getting too old for the world. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she felt that way. Nor was it likely the last, as she lived for quite a few years past the horrific Judy Collins moment that was probably etched in her mind forever. But she was born in 1896 and lived to be in her mid-80s, so she saw a lot of things change, come, and go, and come back again. Mostly she rolled with the punches, but in her mind, Judy Collins’ singing did not constitute music.

Now, as the years go by, I can relate. Oh, I still like Judy Collins okay, though admittedly when I listened to the song again as I wrote this blog post, I did find it somewhat annoying and a bit screechy. Perhaps in 10 years I would also question whether or not it was moosik. Nowadays, I’m much more liable to listen to Zac Brown Band or Luke Bryan, and bluegrass interests me more than folk music. Or whatever you would call the music I liked back in the mid-70s.

Interestingly, both of my sisters and I have become country music fans. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have imagined listening to songs about drinking whiskey and beer and dancing in the back of a pick-up truck. But I like the songs of most of the contemporary country singers. In fact, I watched the recent CMA Music Festival on ABC, and was pleased to realize that I recognized every song and knew the words to most of them.

My brother, however, still takes a firm stand against country music. He’s only a baby of 57. It doesn’t hit until 60, so he has a few more years to listen to Top 40 hits (or whatever it is he listens to). Our children think it’s just another sign that we are steps away from assisted living.

But, while I cringe when I listen to the Top 40 hits that Maggie Faith plays while she cooks, I have – to date, anyway – refrained from asking her if this is moosik.