Thursday, August 13, 2009

GMVW # 84: "A Fresh Perspective"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 84:  A Fresh Perspective
Song:  Love Train by the O’Jays
(Songwriters: Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff)
August 13, 2009

On our long journey West this past month one feature we never came close to seeing was the ocean.  In fact, the nearest we came to the ocean was at the very beginning of the trip when we reached our 100-foot distance milestone at the bottom of the driveway, a good 50 miles from Hampton Beach.  When we took a left out of the driveway instead of a right, the Atlantic Ocean was already beyond the range of our rear view mirror and the distance only grew with every mile logged.  A U-turn in U-tah guaranteed the Pacific Ocean would remain beyond the horizon as well.

While in the heart of the country, I brought up to Charlotte the very real possibility that there were older folks in the small towns we were traveling through whom had never seen the ocean.  This was hard for her to fathom (no pun intended).  After all, here in New England, the ocean is somewhat of a given.  We all connect with it, at least on occasion, but more likely often, be it in Rockport, Old Lyme, Acadia, Newport, Mystic, Edgartown, Scituate, Boston, Portsmouth, Camden, Fairfield, Portland, Fall River, Salem, Block Island, or the heart of our region’s coastal zone, Cape Cod.

As far back as I can remember Cape Cod was a routine destination for Mom and Dad, with Falmouth as the focal point. One big reason for our numerous crossings over the Bourne Bridge was that Dad’s parents and three of his four sisters lived in Falmouth (two of my Aunts and many cousins still live there):  Our many visits to their homes, neighborhoods and beaches are etched in my memory.  However, family ties were not the only reason for our frequent visitation.  The other reason was that Dad loved the ocean.  He was drawn to it (still is), and every visit to Falmouth included side treks along the coast, including Old Silver Beach, the Inner Harbor, the Heights, and the large salt ponds that break up East Falmouth into a series of peninsulas.

Most consistent of these side treks were the evening drives along the coastal route that meanders past Nobska Point Lighthouse, connecting Falmouth Town Beach to Woods Hole. Dad could not get enough of this drive and I believe the vistas, which allowed insight into the sheer vastness of the ocean, were the primary reason.  For the past 35 years this route has been the scene of the Falmouth Road Race, which has had Steeves family entries every year since its inception (this year the representatives consisted of Brother Pat, Sister-in-law Ruth, Brother-in-law Paul, Niece/Goddaughter Kelley and Cousin Andrea).  Yet, before the Road Race this stretch of coastline appeared to us to be Dad’s secret, as often it seemed we were the only car on the road those carefree summer evenings.

Me?  I was occasionally captivated but more often indifferent to those aspects of the deep blue sea that seemed to fascinate Dad the most.  I loved looking for creatures in the tide pools, but the immensity of the ocean was beyond my comprehension.  And so during those car rides around Falmouth my focus could easily veer in other directions, like my baseball card collection, a good comic book, or how to give Joe a noogie without Mom noticing.

That was then, this is now.  My appreciation for Cape Cod and the ocean has grown over the years. And when I have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to Mac’s place in Humarock and sit out on the deck with the ocean on one side and the South River Harbor on the other, I do my best to appreciate what’s around me. It’s much easier now than it was as a kid. No longer is a view of the high seas taken for granted.  In fact, now it’s me trying to get Charlotte and Peter’s attention to point out some half-crazed, ocean-inspired insight of mine.  What goes around comes around.

Appreciation works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes a good thing can be staring you right in the face, and you don’t notice. This goes for music as much as anything. How is it that a song can mean little or nothing at one time, but later finds its way into you’re sub consciousness (or, to use the right terminology for this forum, you’re ‘Gem Space’)?  I’ve sometimes wondered: Do someone’s ears, like their taste buds, evolve over time, or is it just life experiences and the right moment that open new opportunities for previously discarded songs?

Gem Video of the Week, ‘Love Train’, by the O’Jays, turned the corner for me in the most unlikely of ways:  A Super Bowl Coors Light commercial.  The version here was performed on the David Letterman show.  Something about it finally gave me a sense of appreciation….. much like a recent viewing of the ocean at the Nobska Lighthouse.  I get it, Dad.  I get it.

- Pete

Love Train by The O’Jays
About the Video: Performed on the David Letterman Show (not sure of the date). 

Video Ranking: 1

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