Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Too Late

One of the advantages of being a blogger is you can (1) think weird thoughts and (2) put them down and then (3) have your readership either (a) praise, (b) condemn or (c) ignore you for it. On a good day, you get options 3(a) and 3(b) and you avoid 3(c). I had a weird thought this afternoon and now that I'm home it's time to share it. You've been warned.

Back in March of 1971 Carole King released an album that would become one of the most enduring records in the history of rock and roll, Tapestry. It was an odd duck of an album in some ways, comprising some songs that King had written back in her Brill Building days with then-husband Gerry Goffin, along with some newer compositions. It was a massive hit and the most successful album of the singer-songwriter era. The vision of the album is all over the map, which is probably fitting, because it's certainly emblematic of its times. By the time the album was released King had left Goffin, moved to California and was floating in and out of relationships with other men. Feminism was very much in play in those days, but there's nothing especially feminist about the songs or the album itself. It's more ruminative than anything else, what the British call a "bedsit album."

Several of the songs hit very, very big that year, with the biggest being "It's Too Late," a song that may or may not have been about King's relationship with Goffin. It's a pretty clear-eyed summation of a romance gone wrong. The words are pretty plangent, especially the chorus:

It's too late, baby, now it's too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died and I can't hide
And I just can't fake it

So here's my weird thought - I hear the song and it makes me think of what's happening right now, and not only in this election cycle. I've done my fair share of alternately mocking and cringing at the Obama campaign in recent days. But it's becoming increasingly evident that there's something else in the air, something that's only tangentially related to Obama, his campaign or even what his adminstration would look like should he ultimately prevail in November. I'm not sure what's happening, but whatever is happening is bigger and more momentous than all that. My sense is that there are forces at play right now that are a lot more powerful than anything else that we've experienced in my lifetime. I think that the next 4-8 years are going to be transformative regardless of the occupant of the Oval Office. Something very new and potentially quite strange is on the horizon. I'm not worried or fearful about it, because there's no use in worrying about things you cannot control. But my sense is that we're in for a hell of a ride, and soon.


Uncle Ben said...

I'm curious as to why such a feeling has come upon you. I'm not disagreeing with in the slightest (it's your feeling after all!), but I just wonder what vibe you're picking up on, what images or smells or allusions flit through your mind. The song helps a bit (I think I can conjure up the melody), but "the cusp" is such a powerful thing to conceive; it can be so vague that only art can capture it, and then only a fraction.

Anonymous said...

You were decidedly more on the mark with Obama with In Living Color's "Cult of Personality." Obama promises everything while saying nothing. This approach plays while he's bashing Bush, or bashing Hillary, but eventually he'll have to talk about something substantive. It's easy to win the support of young idealistic college students and other lefties. That may be enough to win the nomination, (big if as the Clinton campaign I'm sure has many more tricks up it sleeve), but it remains to be seen if the general public feels that they can trust him to run the country. Howard Dean stumped down the same path, he just isn't as charming and lacks Obama's oratory skills.

An Obama vs Mc Cain campaign would be very interesting: Kind of like Pepsi vs. Coke.

Right Hook said...

Obama or the Ice Queen would promote the gradual loss of US soveriegnty to the UN or regional governments.

A disturbing look into the man's thinking can be found here.

I have a feeling Mrs. Clinton will avoid the vote all together as will Obama but he can't run too far from it since his name, as well as those of some high-profile RINOs I might add, is on it.

Mark said...


What I'm sensing isn't tangible, which is why I'm struggling to explain it. My guess is that the rise of Obama is one manifestation of what I'm sensing, but his campaign is only a small part of what I think is ahead. And I'm hardly convinced that he'll even be elected, although it's certainly possible. In the business world you often hear the term "paradigm shift," and there's an element of that. But what I'm sensing is bigger than a simple paradigm shift.


I agree with everything you're saying about Obama. He's an Eric Hoffer case study and a lot of his followers are the sorts of people that Hoffer describes in "The True Believer." Nothing new in that, which is why it's so easy to describe (and why some of his supporters bristle at the description.) But as I said, what I'm sensing isn't really about him. As the year goes on, all of this should become more clear. Politics are an element of what I'm sensing, but only an element.


I agree with you, too. But what I'm sensing is not simply about things like sovereignty, although there's an element of that, too. As I said, I'm not worried. It's quite possible that the changes ahead will be amenable to conservatives. That's the problem with thinking out loud — it's not always easy to find the right words.

Strolling Amok said...

I think this country is exhausted after almost twenty years of Bush-Clinton-Bush. People want, well, something different. Maybe none of us are too clear on what that something different is but, as another great songwriter of the 70s said:
"Don't know what I want
But I know how to get it"

Uncle Ben said...

The Sex Pistols were known for his insightful social commentary. ;)