No Wise Man Has the Power…


I am working on a playlist I decided would be called “Grocery Store Jams”. The premise is that it’s songs I heard at the grocery store growing up, or on the way in my mom’s car (“Mom’s Station Wagon” was an alternative title. It’s not necessarily “Yacht Rock”, although some of it is. A lot of the songs are “bad” by current tastes, but nostalgic- a lot are still great songs. There is a heap of the dreaded “Adult Contemporary” of the nineties, the category where 60’s rockers and blues crooners went to die. If I were honest about it, I would have some 90’s Clapton and Bonnie Raitt on there- but I just can’t listen to those songs anymore. There’s a hell of a lot of Steve Winwood though, and Bruce Hornsby. I put in some Brit favorites like Howard Jones and Level 42, but avoided anything from the 80’s that would end up on an “Awesome 80’s” list or anything like that. Phil Collins and Genesis make an appearance. Anita Baker and Christine McVie bring some smokiness. I got rid of the Steely Dan for being too respectable for a middle-aged man to listen to, but I left IGY by Donald Fagen. Jackson Browne got a last minute removal for the same reason. So did the Eagles, although Don Henley and Glenn Frey are on there. It’s a work still very much in progress.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/74iR7Whblvxsgbj6AwU7Kw

The Doobie Brothers were on the list a lot, but for the reason of being so clearly Classic/Yacht Rock, I edited them out. Before I cut it, “What a Fool Believes” started playing, so obviously I had to listen the whole way through and croak along in my best Michael McDonald impression. This song gets me everytime, right from the jump. Those cheery major chords on the keys, blithe, almost silly- bouncy for sure. The bridge, the falsetto, Blue-Eyed Soul at its absolute best. Co-written by Kenny Loggins, it’s the tale of a man and woman reuniting after being separated. The man still thinks there’s something there, the woman never felt the same way. One gets the impression that either this was just a temporary fling that meant nothing to her, or it was something more significant and he blew it somehow. Despite her (off camera, so to speak) telling him that there is nothing there (anymore?), he keeps living in a fantasy world where things are different.

As the lyrics say “But what a fool believes/ he sees/ no wise man has the power/ to reason away”. It’s the story of the human journey, no?

This song has followed me around my whole life, popping up at odd times. Sometimes it comes on when I am a low point, like a message that things are going to be ok, it’s the delusions in life that cause me pain most of the time- not the reality. Sometimes I feel like it’s a gentle admonition, sometimes it tells me I am on the right path. This song is like a well-placed tarot card for me, it takes a little interpretation based on the circumstances. Is it The Fool though? Well, sure, but that’s a little on the nose. I don’t typically read reversals, but perhaps a Knight of Cups reversed might be more accurate, or in an unfavorable position, near a 5 of Cups and The Star (in its less favorable aspects). 

So, yes, this was a round-about way to say that sometimes it helps to associate song lyrics with cards. It’s something I have sort of done unconsciously over the years, but am going to start doing more actively now that I have walked myself through this exegesis.

As for the playlist, I am subbing the song with the suspiciously similar “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree. Not sure how those songs came out within a year of each other with a lawsuit. Dupree says that sort of piano lick was pretty common in music by then, and he’s right- I realized I had also put “He’s So Shy” by the Pointer Sisters on the playlist, and yep. I’ll have to work out some correspondences for those songs too. But that’s for another post I guess.

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