brady look back

 It Was Almost Like A Song

A Lyrical Look at 2020

The date just rolls off the tongue. Twenty twenty. It sounds soothing because it’s an alliteration. It’s divisible by two. An even number. But maybe we should have looked a little deeper. Maybe it was an omen of what was to come.

Who could have predicted on January 1st that this was a year of the convergence of so many excruciating occurrences it would bring us to our collective knees?  Do we now have 2020 hindsight, pun intended? No, not yet, but maybe conversing with past historians can help us plot a course or give us hope.

Looking for answers in history books is a scary exercise. Are we really doomed to repeat our mistakes when we forget our past? How does a society confront a pandemic we humans have no defense against, an economic depression, systemic racial injustice, and severe climactic events, all in a presidential election year? We are being bombarded from all sides and it’s difficult to keep anything in perspective. The 24-hour news cycle brings fresh horrors that we barely have time to digest. If we feel numb and/or disconnected, it’s not our fault!

Sometimes when the news of the day, the week, the month gets too much, I find myself looking for music that offers a window into how songwriters expressed themselves through lyrics, song titles and even the melodies during other tough times. As an example, I often turn to The Beatles, A Day in the Life, that goes: “I read the news today, oh boy.” Scrolling through my news feed and Twitter, this melody constantly rolls around in my head and says it all. 

Today, as I write this, we’ve lost 204,000 souls to the virus --almost 2,000 more than yesterday’s total. 

The songs that fill my head are Stayin’ Alive and I Will Survive. I’ve come to the conclusion that to save my life, I’m on my own. The virus, unfortunately, is not going away by magic nor is a safe vaccine anywhere on the near horizon. Every day I hear stories of those who have died from the disease. And so I’m usually, like Roy Orbison, Crying.

Other victims of the pandemic are all the people who have lost jobs and the businesses that have closed permanently. Gimme Shelter. It’s been a Cruel Summer. And I am constantly questioning what country I’m living in. This is How a Heart Breaks.

The racial unrest is a bill that has come due. In 2020. In the middle of a pandemic. You can’t always choose when the time is right, but Lord I wish that it had its own spotlight instead of sharing the time and attention with so many other crises.  It’s a real Tragedy. I hope recognition of systemic racism will be discussed more thoroughly in 2021 to get all the attention and healing it deserves.

And oh then there is the election. By the time this issue of Allegany Magazine goes to print, it will be over. I pray our nation will Come Together and that In The End the divisiveness we’ve experienced will disappear so friends will find a way to be friends again. I have never experienced a time when our country has been so divided. I fervently hope our respective differences will Never Tear Us Apart again.  Party affiliation notwithstanding, we are all Americans, all citizens of this great country, this democracy – I pray we can keep it.

Make no mistake – I reference songs, not to diminish my feelings but to highlight them and put them into a context that is so hard to capture with mere words. Maybe you will smile, but hopefully you will listen to the different songs and find some comfort. At least I didn’t mention Eve of Destruction!

I have more Faith than that.  But just a little.

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