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Easy to Slip

March 5, 2016

“It’s so easy to slip
It’s so easy to fall
And let your memory drift
And do nothin’ at all
All the love that you missed
All the people that you can’t recall
Do they really exist at all”

– Lowell George, from Easy to Slip

I don’t remember the first time I heard Little Feat’s Easy to Slip. I can’t recall any of the details about where I was or if I was with anyone.

I can guess that it was likely on one of the very fine FM radio stations we used to listen to. This was a time when there was a real person behind the mic who delighted in playing music that he or she knew we would enjoy. Listeners felt a connection to the stations and the people who played the music. The disc jockey told us about new releases, music genealogy, studio musicians, recent shows in town, upcoming tours, and their favorite musicians and albums. This was all part of my early education about music and the start of a listening habit that sticks with me until this very moment. The two-channel stereo plays every day over here.

Little Feat was a featured artist on WXRT September 14, 1978. This meant that they played lots of the band's music that day, along with other music the DJs thought complemented Little Feat. There's a pin hole in the upper right of this card, which was attached to a small cork board in my bedroom. I found this list in the same box as the WTC postcard.

Little Feat was a featured artist on WXRT September 14, 1978. This meant that they played lots of the band’s music that day, along with other music the DJs thought complemented Little Feat. There’s a pin hole in the upper right of this card, which was attached to a small cork board in my bedroom. I found this list in the same box as the WTC postcard.

It’s also possible that I first heard Easy to Slip when one of my school chums played the tape in one of our car decks or the LP on the turntable. We discovered a lot of music together. And like the folks behind the FM radio mics, we too liked to share and spread the word about the music we heard. In fact, we took it as a responsibility to reveal this stuff to one another. We sat on a bonanza of great tunes, my buddies and me.

The thing about Easy to Slip, like a lot of the other songs I first heard when I was young, is that I couldn’t possibly have known the context. There weren’t lost memories; I had a memory made of steel. There wasn’t a person I couldn’t remember. All my school teachers and coaches, for sure. Classmates and sports teammates, too. People from church, the neighborhood and jobs I had worked.

As for missed love, there was nothing to forget. Young love was all I knew. It was forever love.

Still, music, like other art forms, gives us a different set of lens. That’s the way it was for me with some (many) of those songs I listened to early on. I was too young to know for real, but capable of understanding nonetheless. It was almost as if the fast forward buttons on one of the cassette players was giving me a glimpse of the future. Perhaps not exactly as intended by one of the gazzilion internet memes attributed to Albert Einstein, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

*********

Cleaning out the garage last month, I came across a postcard we received right after we moved to San Francisco a long time ago. The front of 20160305_063815 (3)the postcard shows the World Trade Center. It was a bit of a shock and of course brought back memories of the day most of us sat by helplessly as we learned that thousands of people had been murdered by religious lunatics. Little did we know then where that ghastly crime would lead the world.

I learned about the strikes while driving my boys to their high school. We heard Bob Edwards talk about it on NPR. We initially thought that it was a fictional account, a “what-if” scenario that he was laying out for a politician or other guest on his show. However, it didn’t take long for us to learn that this was far from the case. The towers had indeed been attacked. When we arrived at the school, the front office and faculty were in high gear. I chatted briefly with the School Principal, who assured me with Mr. Crandall confidence that the school was the right place for its students that day.

Memories are a funny thing of course. In certain cases, we seem to create them for ourselves with discount to the facts. That dreadful day in September 2001 is no exception. While there can be no way to remember without the natural emotions befitting such a gruesome and monstrous act, we don’t always get the events right. It doesn’t take long for this phenomenon to set in. For example, less than two months after perpetration of the evil act, a study consisting of 569 college students’ was performed to document their memories of that day. Nearly three out of four of them reported incorrectly that on September 11, they watched a videotape of the first plane striking the first World Trade Center tower. That videotape wasn’t shown on television until the next day, September 12.

After the attacks, there were some brave people who joined the military. But they were then, as the are now, a distinct minority – the “boots on the ground” that the Republicans are so enthusiastic about sending into battle.

At a time when George H. W. Bush declared that his son, President George W. Bush “faced the greatest challenge of any president since Abraham Lincoln,” it was indeed George W.’s duty to inspire us. One of his plays was to encourage us to spend some dough, “Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” (Huh?) So, that’s what many did. They went to the mall. They bought and waved American flags made in China. They slapped “We Will Never Forget” stickers to their cars. You may remember those stickers. They were the easy to remove magnetic stickers. No fuss, no muss, just in case Americans wanted to forget sometime sooner than never.

The wars drag on. One gets the feeling they will only heighten from here. September 11 seems like the start of something that has no end.

The radio stations, however, are long gone. We can thank Bill Clinton for this. Twenty years ago, as part of his steady push to deregulate everything he could, Clinton signed a bill to facilitate the consolidation of the number of companies owning radio stations. Some of my colleagues at the firm I worked for at the time were involved with transactions in which the big media companies swallowed up local stations across the country. The FM air wave independence that I was accustomed to when I was younger was being wiped out in front of my eyes. Smart and talented people were simply performing their professional duties and thereby helping to ensure that Little Feat would never be on the radio again.

I haven’t bothered listening to FM radio for a long time. There’s no joy to be found there with the computerized set lists created with programmed algorithms at the corporate office hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The one exception I make is for FM radio veteran Bonnie Simmons, who still has a weekly two-hour set on Berkeley’s own KPFA.

I don't know if KLT ever wrote again.

I don’t know if KLT ever wrote again.

I wish I could say more about the WTC postcard itself. I’ve had it sitting out ever since I came across it last month, but remain stumped. It was clearly written by someone familiar at the time, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out who that is. It’s signed with “love you always.” It goes to show, always isn’t forever.

I’m on my own with this task. There’s nobody to ask for help. It’s so easy to slip.

20160305_144655 (3)

Easy to Slip is on Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes album (bottom right). Bob Weir re-arranged and played it on his Heaven Help The Fool album.

 

 

15 Comments
  1. Very interesting post.

    I was there, just two blocks north of the evacuation zone. I had just gotten out of the shower when I felt something like a small earthquake. It was the first plane hitting the first tower. I walked out and what I saw was as bad as I had expected.

    What happened afterward…. It was New York at its best.

    Friends insisted I come join them. On the bus, two African American women noticed an old man attempting to get on the bus and they forced the bus to stop and they got him on board. They and the bus driver ensured he got home.

    Later, I needed to be back at my own apartment. My partner was trapped on Staten Island where he had watched from his office window the second plane hit the second tower.

    I walked through the nightmare streets of that night to get to my apartment and sat on the edge of my bed and listened to the silence, punctuated by the sounds of jet fighters overhead and thought I have entered into a world I never imagined.

    And the world we live in, is the world we never imagined.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mat – that is quite a story. Certainly a day that you will not forget. If I may ask, do you think there are aspects that you’ve already forgotten? Or are there details that now seem fuzzy? Sounds like A Letter from NY.

      I never wanted to imagine the craziness that fills 2016 headlines. And sometimes, it’s now hard to imagine anything different.

      Like

  2. Great post and great writing. When you give us treats like this I devour it like a good meal.

    My ex-girlfriend actually called me the morning of September 11th and the first thing she said with no introduction was, “America’s under attack!” I was still in a sleepy eyed stupor and actually looked outside of my window half expecting to see Russian troopers or something equally bizarre–and who could blame me? My actions were just as undefined as the horrendous act that became a part of everyone’s reality that morning in New York.

    Like

    • Gary, I think that most Americans’ initial internal responses that day could be understandable. Most of us didn’t have a comparable experience beforehand. All new territory. Had the Russian troopers been assembled out your window, you’d at least recognize the enemy you’d heard about.

      Thanks for the very kind words. Should you ever make it up here to watch your beloved Green and Gold, maybe we can share a gourmet meal of peanuts and cold beer out at the yard.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was there shortly after 9/11 and I had not revisited the area again until last month. I did not recognize where I was standing, it had clearly slipped away.

    Like

  4. kdk permalink

    It’s funny how a small thing can capture a moment in time that later becomes a pivot point — what was happening in life before that point, what came after. Postcards are always just a snapshot in time. Mine are usually written hurriedly and too often with a sense of obligation. Yours reminds me of when I lived in NY in my 20s and a few visits to the top of the towers during my time there.

    I’m working with a number of folks in their 20s and 30s (a startup — everyone is 20/30-something) and we talk about things. Sometimes I find myself leaning into a conversation to share something from when I was that age and I realize how much life I’ve lived between my 20s and … now. I have pretty good recall but there’s no way to keep track of it all, right? Easy for me to say — I don’t have a postcard to remind me of what I don’t remember. Thoughtful post —

    Liked by 1 person

    • kdk, There is no way to keep track of it all. So,the fuzzier things get, the clearer everything becomes.

      It’s great that you are finding conversations with your Silicon Valley colleagues. Don’t worry about getting the details exactly right when you tell them about the early days in startup land. As you know, nobody has time for such triviality. It’s the big ideas that count over there. And another piece of advice if I may, just say no to the Red Bull.

      Like

      • kdk permalink

        Ha! Thanks — yes, I have vices, but never Red Bull (I value sleep). Your Red Bull advice is based on personal experience?

        Like

  5. Great post. Things mean a lot, then they don’t anymore. Life is strange and passing.

    Like

  6. Very thoughtful post. Memories/love/friends do slip away, or they change with time. Yet our memories of a terrible or wonderful event seems to stand still in our minds, clear as day. Too bad we let the repercussions slip away. I’m going to re-read this post several times, because you hit on some great topics. Oh! And just like books that we read at 20 should be re-read at 50; so too, songs we loved at 20 need to be re-listened to at 50. We’ll get many different meanings out of the books/songs as our life has deepened.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “started something that has no end.” Yeah, Bruce, it feels that way to me too. When Bush announced his plan to go to war in response to the attack, my heart sank. I knew it was coming, but I held out a naive hope until his announcement that my cynicism would be proved wrong. It wasn’t. And here we are, 15 years later, still fighting and no signs of stopping.

    It’s always a shock when I see the towers now. Guess it will be always (and forever), and that’s a good thing because at least I know the event touched me deeply and I remember the impact. Like the people surveyed, I guess I assumed I saw the towers fall on day one too – but I watched television all day every day for a week that week. I think all the awful images from that week converge into one memory of one day for me.

    And what a shock too, to read about the love from someone you can’t recall at the moment. That is a profound commentary on how memories work.

    Like

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