Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon & Yoko Ono’

Recalling A Drive Home

November 9, 2011

Originally posted December 24, 2008

I was living in Columbia, Missouri, in late December 1990, teaching at a women’s college. Finals were over, I’d turned in the grades for my three courses, and I was preparing a drive the next day back to Minnesota, to spend the holidays with my family.

I was slowly pulling things together for that Wednesday drive: a box of gifts, a suitcase or two, a box of supplies for the trip. At noon on that Tuesday, I turned the radio on at lunchtime. As I ate a sandwich, I heard a report from Kansas City – one hundred and twenty miles west of Columbia – that the temperature had fallen into the mid-twenties and a freezing rain was coating the streets and highways. The system, said the weatherman, was moving east at a good clip.

I glanced outside: sunshine and an unseasonably warm temperature in the mid-sixties.

A little concerned, I pulled out the phone book and looked up the number for the Missouri State Patrol’s travel information line.

“Hi,” I said to the man who answered. “I’m leaving Columbia for Minnesota tomorrow morning –”

“No, you’re not,” he said.

“What?”

“You won’t be leaving Columbia for anywhere tomorrow morning,” he said. “There’s a nasty patch of freezing rain coming through in about three to four hours. You can leave this afternoon, or you can maybe get out of town Thursday, but I can guarantee you that if you don’t leave Columbia very soon today, you’re not going anywhere tomorrow.”

Startled, I asked what he recommended.

“If you can, leave town in the next couple of hours, and – lemme look at the map – yeah, drive north of Des Moines, Iowa. North of there, the precipitation should be snow, and you can drive in it. South of there, it’s freezing rain, and you don’t wanna be on the road in that.”

I thanked him and hung up. And I accelerated my rate of preparations. Luckily, I’d made lists of what I needed to take (an act of organization quite out of character for me). I pulled those things together, called the fellow who lived in an upstairs apartment to tell him he’d need to begin caring for my cats a day earlier than planned, and I loaded the car. I headed north out of Columbia about an hour after my conversation with the state patrol.

The rain coming in from the west met me about three hours later, while I was still a ways south of Des Moines. I carefully drove on for another two hours, until I was well north of the snow line, then stopped for the night at a small-town motel. In the morning, I cleared five or so inches of snow from the car and headed on, making my way further north. Between the falling snow, the snow already packed down on the freeway and the clog of Twin Cities traffic, it was a long and tense day of driving until I got into St. Cloud late that afternoon. But I was home.

Now, eighteen years since I headed out of town early, the Texas Gal and I are home, too, where we belong, and we’ll share a quiet evening tonight and a happy day together tomorrow. I hope that – wherever it might be – that’s where you all are this Christmas Eve: Home.

An original and a cover version
I wrote earlier in the week that there are only two holiday songs I continue to enjoy. I posted “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” last Saturday. Today, I’ll post two versions of the other holiday song I still enjoy: a 2006 cover by Sarah McLachlan of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and the original version from 1970, credited to John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir.

Sarah McLachlan – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” [2006, from Wintersong]

John & Yoko et. al – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” [Apple 1842, 1971]

Saturday Single No. 47

May 28, 2011

Originally posted December 22, 2007

Despite the holiday week ahead of us, the event I perceive as the most hopeful of the season took place early this morning, just eight minutes after midnight. That was the moment of the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun reached its furthest point from the equator on its journey south and began to come north again. That northward journey by the sun is a long process, of course, and the seasonal shift set in motion by its southward trek is only just beginning here in the Northland.

For some time yet, the temperatures will be colder and the chilling winds will be stronger. More than likely we will have more days when storms swoop out of the Canadian northwest, leaving our houses, trees and all under layer upon layer of snow, making the entire city look like the work of a baker gone mad with frosting.

But with all that chill and snow to come – and it will come, for if one believes the words of the various forecasters, this will be a hard winter – there is hope in the reaching of the solstice. From today on, the amount of daylight we receive will be greater every day. Each morning’s sunrise will be earlier, and the evening’s sunset will be later. We are on our way out of the darkness, and my spirit grasps at that fact with hope, making me feel at least a little bit like my long-ago German and Swedish ancestors must have when the solstice promised the eventual endings of their even darker and longer Nordic winters.

Hope was one of the main ingredients in the recording I’ve chosen to share today, both in my view and in the view of Dave Marsh, who assessed the recording in 1989 in his book, The Heart of Rock & Soul. Marsh ranked the single at No. 784 and wrote:

“John Lennon was always rock’s most Dickensian character, and here, he emulates ‘A Christmas Carol’ to a tee, stopping just short of pronouncing, ‘God bless us, every one!’ Well, Christmas is the season of sentimentality, and if there were greater sentimentalists in rock history than Lennon (at least in one of his guises) and [producer] Phil Spector, I’ve never heard of them. Let’s remember, then, that Dickens is remembered in part because of, not despite, his warm and open emotionalism and that ‘A Christmas Carol’ is the best-loved of all his stories not only because it fits the season’s hopes, but because, like the best records of the Beatles and Phil Spector, the love it inspires is equal to the love it creates.”

And all that is why “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – credited in full to “John & Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir” and produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector – is today’s Saturday Single.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” [1971]