I am running away from the chatter on the internet. Seeking refuge in music. The line catches my attention. In the moment, it captures my feelings about the headlines, about how whatever insignificant subject dominating the news is analysed beyond reason.
I know the song well, probably sing along to parts of it, but I have never really paid attention to the lyrics. (This is not unusual for me but is it unusual?) I start replaying the song and look up the lyrics.
A quick read through stops at Saturday’s child, the one that works hard for a living. These are lyrics with depth. I go back to the top.
The lyrics are a treasure trove full of references — pleasant distractions.
Althea, a mythological Greek queen. A tragedy with all the trappings. A prince’s unrequited love, treachery and revenge. Avunculicide, infanticide and suicide.
My research leads me to one fact, explaining why there is so much to the lyrics, and trivia. The lyricist is a poet, Robert Hunter, born Robert Burns, a great-great grandson of The Robert Burns and officially a non-performing band member of The Grateful Dead.
I head back to the conversation between Althea and the singer. Ophelia‘s fate. Hamlet! More dead uncles, dead princes and dead queens.
I am think about more and more.
I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
That my back might need protection
I told Althea that treachery
Was tearing me limb from limb
Althea told me, now cool down boy
Settle back easy, Jim
You may be Saturday’s child all grown
Moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
Or just another pretty face
You may be the fate of Ophelia
Sleeping and perchance to dream
Honest to the point of recklessness
Self-centered to the extreme
Ain’t nobody messin’ with you but you
Your friends are getting most concerned
Loose with the truth, maybe its your fire
Baby I hope you don’t get burned
When the smoke has cleared, she said
That’s what she said to me
You’re gonna want a bed to lay your head
And a little sympathy
There are things you can replace
And others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
This space is gettin’ hot
You know this space is gettin’ hot
I told Althea, I’m a roving sign
That I was born to be a bachelor
Althea told me, OK that’s fine
So now I’m trying to catch her
Can’t talk to you without talking to me
We’re guilty of the same old things
Thinking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring