Saturday, October 17, 2020

Gypsy Wind

I still recall the place
When I first felt your gypsy wind
Playing on my face
That summer's long since gone
But gypsy winds have ways of staying on.

Voices from our past
Still insist on arguing
That love will never last
And though our hearts may turn
It's only when you listen that you learn.

And I wonder at the ways
The strands of love meander
Through our close and distant days
The blood of passion plays
Burns our thirsty souls
And chases reason far away...
Far away...
And still your gypsy wind
Will soothe my soul and call me back again.

Growing wise with age
We come to see the printing
Through the pictures on the page
Though something's always lost
The gain is always tempered by the cost.

And I wonder at the ways
The strands of love meander
Through our close and distant days
The blood of passion plays
Burns our thirsty souls
And chases reason far away...
Far away...
And still your gypsy wind
Will soothe my soul and call me back again.

I have been picking out the guitar chords and melody of Dan Fogelberg's third track on his Phoenix album, released in 1979. On the surface, I suppose a lot of listeners might think that Gypsy Wind is a straightforward ballad about someone falling in love. But it isn't. It is much more. It is a song that has a message for people in the times we live in right now – those who are awakening, many for the first time in their lives, to the realization that no one is a victim in this life; awakening to an understanding that we have all been played, numbed down and dumbed down by forces that wish us to remain under their control in a semi-conscious state.

Each of us is the protagonist in our own life drama. With this awakening, as we forge ahead to new ways of looking at things, we still are looking back over our shoulder to a time when we lived at the whim of someone else, wondering if the siren call that kept us entrained in previous times will call us back again. For all of us, the music of this past time and relationship still plays loudly in our minds, enticing us to return to being victims. The “voices from the past still insist on arguing that love will never last”. While the danger of repeating our mistakes is always possible, the song is about staying focused and listening to our own personal truth – truly grasping who we are and what we really want - “it's only when you listen that you learn”.

Even if our hearts “turn” back toward that “old familiar tune” in our memories, we can still resist what we don't want by being consciously aware of what we do want. When our minds are open, we can learn; when they close, we stagnate and die.

The chorus is a clever passage about the never-ending powers of temptation. When we are unhappy, temptation (in the form of fear) reigns supreme because our minds are searching for some source of happiness. We look to the past to find something to believe in. The protagonist in our play “wondered at the ways the strands of love meandered through his close and distant days”.

All of us have been taught and reinforced since our earliest days that transient things like possessions, money, and sex are what we need to pursue to find happiness. Thus “the blood of passion plays burns our thirsty souls and chases reason far away... far away”. But chasing these transient things has only left us disconnected and ultimately unhappy.

Before our awakening, we were slaves to the opinions, beliefs, and desires of everyone else out there, but indulging in these “passion plays” has left our thirst unquenched, diverting us all from real joy.

Many of us have awoken to the bigger picture, thus the line “we come to see the printing through the pictures on the page”. We have become wiser, able to see the details of what is really happening through a sounder mind.

The final two lines of the song reveal what is most true for all of us in this life. Every time we make a choice, whether out of love or fear, “something's always lost”. By choosing one thing in any given moment, all other possibilities are invariably lost. Anything that we gain by our decision must be “tempered by the cost”. This is the inescapable dilemma of divine duality.

As the awakened protagonist in our own play, we have become wise, wary of our memories of when we unconsciously yielded to subjugation. With our recent awareness, we have decided we don't want that anymore, so have rejected these memories... but by doing so, we have lost the chance to once again experience the “gypsy wind” of our past.

In the end, there really is no right or wrong – just the choosing of one way of reality or another - either way, sacrificing possibilities not chosen. It is a very deep and complex, yet enlightened lyric that involves the foundation of our own reality in this and perhaps all times – all woven neatly in the guise of a melodic love ballad. It is just brilliant songwriting, and probably something Fogelberg rarely received credit for.

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