When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
That's my favourite poem. The Peace Of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry. It says so much to me about life, the world we live in, sadness, worry and sleepless nights. There was a time, when I was a younger man, when insomnia troubled me a lot. Living out in the countryside, I would often get up before dawn and go out for a walk; sometimes in the darkness, sometimes in that dull, dead twilight before dawn. I went into the peace of wild things, up to the reservoir, watched the birds on the water, the first rays of sun breaking over Castle Hill in the east.
I don't do that anymore. I live a bit further away from the wild things now, and besides, I'd wake the whole house. Instead, I use music to help me rest in the grace of the world and stop me taxing my mind with forethought of grief.
6. Steely Dan - Showbiz Kids
One great band to feed through your headphones in the wee small hours, when all else seems dark, is Steely Dan. And one of my favourites at the moment is Showbiz Kids. There's so much going on in this track, it's like three different songs playing at the same time. Lyrically and musically, it's endlessly fascinating. It's a very witty song (love the reference to the showbiz kids with their "shapely bods", wearing their Steely Dan T-shirts), but I've been puzzling for some time over the chorus - the bit the female backing singers repeat, over and over again, but which isn't included in the booklet that comes with the Countdown To Ecstasy CD or any of the online search engines which list the lyrics.
To be honest, once you've got that refrain in your head and started wondering what it is... it's the sort of thing that'll keep you awake at night.
Well, finally, I found out. Maybe you know. Maybe you don't. Maybe I'll tell you. Maybe I won't...