I got to thinking this morning of Neil Young, a guy whose music I usually like but with whom I often disagree. I remember when he put out a super-duper digital music player and I thought, no way is that going to sell. It didn't. And he wrote this book that felt like the whining of a child or the grumblings of an old man. Still, he's Neil Young and has made incredible music, done good charity work, and been working at a high level for longer than I've been alive, so I should cut him some slack and have some respect.
Still, this morning, getting in my car I got to thinking, "Neil's wrong." This was occasioned by the sight of rust weeping from under my driver's side door.
My car, bought new in 2005, has 170,000 miles on it. We have been through a lot including one serious crash. Each morning, despite all the years, all those miles, and that crash, I open the door, climb inside, and my car starts on the first try. It gets me where I need to go. I like that and I'm sad to see the rust, know the exhaust system is dying, and feel it is passing the point of diminishing returns.
It was raining this morning when I went out to the car. I opened the door and rusted brown water dripped from the rusting sill. I heard a voice sing, "it's better to burn out than it is to rust" and thought, "shut up, Neil." The rain and the rust had me a little pissy. I was thinking about Dad too. "And once you're gone you can never come back." God damn it, Neil.
Driving to work, I thought over those two songs that I file as one: "Out Of The Blue And Into The Black." I didn't remember all the lyrics, but felt like arguing with him anyway. I wanted him to be wrong so maybe the I could be right. I remembered the album title: Rust Never Sleeps which I changed to Rust Never Stops. And rust always wins, Neil.
Looking at the lyrics now, printed on clean white paper, out of the rain, I don't see much to argue in them, but I'm fighting what's happening to my car, what happened to Dad, what's developing in me. "There's more to the picture than meets the eye." I'm pretty sure Neil knew that rock and roll can and will die. Everything does. And even if he didn't know then, he knows it now. We're all forty years closer to death than when he sang his way out of the blue and into the black. After forty years, the rust is undeniable.
Did Dad burn out or fade away? Did he just rust? Is he out of the blue and into the black? Can he never come back? Is he forgotten?
I'm not expecting answers. I sure as hell don't expect to hear answers from Neil Young. Or my car. Or Dad. I'm no longer in the mood to argue or fight. I'm just humming along with the song in my head. A memory or maybe an expectation. It goes like this:
My my, hey hey and hey hey, my my. And goes on from there to wherever.