A Chord Was All It Took

Remember when the music came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire.  And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire. For we believed in things, and so we’d sing.  Remember when the music brought us all together to stand inside the rain. And as we’d join our hands, we’d meet in the refrain. For we had dreams to live, we had hopes to give.

–Remember When The Music, Harry Chapin.

And so the time to came to take it out from where it had been zipped up and locked away. When the moment came I rested its curvy cherry wood body on my knee while cradling it as I rested my head on it while held so close onto me. For a moment my eyes grew heavy blinked and closed. Slowly I raised my fearful left arm to wrap my hand around its neck each time in a different position whilst my right hand caressed a small plastic pick in between my thumb and forefinger. Slowly I began to strum the strings that formed the chords I would play.

Almost in an instant, I was transported back to a time when music that was produced when this internet-less device that knew not of electricity prodded the vocals to sing songs filled with the fervor of real feelings and meanings that thrust us to act so we could right some wrongs.  There was nowhere we could not go or a mountain we could not scale to whistle out a tune. When there was a cause we would gather with pens buried in our hands hastily yet meticulously converting our poetry into rallying cries to action by way of sharing voices emanating from those who knew the verses. There was a  movement to stop a war unite nation to equalize a race while building on the outrage from Chicago 1968 when they tried to silence those who dared to protest. The sound of the exploding tear gas bombs that left us wretching up our guts while our eyes burned like fire in the night is still fresh in both body, mind, and spirit. Blood filled vomit brought us to our knees yet the chords kept coming as did the voices.

A few fingers gliding effortlessly up and down the neck from that smooth shiny curvy cherry wood body while picking or strumming near the perfectly sculptured circular hole in the middle where the sound flowed so harmoniously from what was all that was needed for a new nation to be born to make its mark in the history books of time. When a flat black platter would spin on a plate with a piece to fit into the hole as a tiny acrylic needled made contact at the proper speed all that music once again filled the air reignited our forgotten dreams and lost passions.

From rectangular plastic cassettes to flat compacted disks to touches of keys that took you to the place where all the music lay waiting to play for us. Those songs, those words, that time will never be replicated. The phenomenon known as the information superhighway has many roads both straight and narrow past farms and fields cities along with places unknown. From angry young men who later moved away from causes for the sake of the love song. What does it all mean? How many people did you, me (they) hurt along the way that forced YOU to hang your ravaged body and soul from the ceiling until all life was choked away from you? Was it him or the alcohol along with the mind-numbing drugs that spoke to him while reaching inside of him even when they all started to go away rather than stay to continue the fight.

“Strum your guitar sing it kid. Just write about your feeling, not the things you never did. Inexperience it once had cursed me. But your youth is no handicap. It’s what makes you thirsty. Hey, kid you know you can hear your footsteps. And you’re kicking up the dust. And the rustling in the shadows tells you secrets you can trust. The capturing of whispers is the way to write a song. Its when you get to microphones the music can go wrong.” There Only Was One Choice-Harry Chapin.

We last sat together on a barren field that years later would be the landing spot for two giant hollow mountains that were destined for destruction. The singers, the bands, Pete on The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater picking on his banjo. The songs we sang had all been sung before but on this sun-drenched day, there were new meanings to be found. Our voices raised in a singularly united choir of asking why this must be so. No, it cannot be. No, it mustn’t be. Alas while we were lulled to sleep in our cubicles in an unsponsored world indeed it came to be. In a moment of mass resignation, everything was packed away sufficing it as all being okay with the way it is.

Somewhere out there is a song not yet written in absentia of chords waiting for a lyric line to be poured out. Shots rang out from handheld cannons as people died as children died. Nowhere was the why of what had happened. A chord of a different nature had not fully been struck. Rockets fly soaring by and more people lay to die. Nowhere was the why of what happened. The pulses rate the pulse pressure so symbolic of what was inside is silently still. If we clinched our hands in love holding on to what was once our lives no longer know of even a hint of touch.

Walk confidently over to it unzip unlock and take it out once more. Let it glow let it beam with pride make it play. In a new world filled with callousness, confusion, bitterness, hatred, lies, and greed your instrument is a pied piper pleading for peace and sanity. If we needed it then surely we must know we need it now. The black smoke billowing from a chimney on top of something with pseudo grandeur is slicing through our lungs decimating the hopes of the children who once knew of a forest where it was safe to breathe. Sing! Sing out strong! Pick it up to caress it coddle it place your fingers just so and sound the chords of alarm bells. The mighty instrument trumpeted an end to that war that was never needed to be fought as freedom was not on the line is a six-stringed dream making machine designed to do good.

The union of concerned crooning conquistadors has all but gone away. Who will claim ownership of the bare bones that were once their dreams? Each had a vision for an America that is now obscured from view. Sling from the right while slinging from the left with sweaty greased hands plunged deeply into lined pockets filled with golden treasures there but for just a few. Only yesterday we roamed the streets of our land with our so-called enemy weapon slung over our shoulders ready for the war. Except our weapon could not kill. It could light fires while extinguishing others. A chord was all it took. G, D, F, E minor we played them all.

“Ghosts of my history will follow me there. And the winds of the old days will blow through my hair.” Winds Of The Old Days-Joan Baez. A chord was all it took. A chord is all it will take. Play the chords and sing the songs. Heal some hurt. Right some wrongs. A chord is all it will take. As said before it is heretofore said again. “And there but for fortune, may go you or I. ” There But For Fortune-Phil Ochs.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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    • Martin, thank you for your uplifting comment in addition to being such a loyal reader. If you go to Woodstock please try to send me some clips if you can. Be well.

    • Lynn, many thanks for reading my article and offering up your highly accurate comment. Here in New York there once was an all Country Music Radio Station. I used to listen to that station a lot being a fan of some of the original Country Music Artists. The station did not get high enough ratings to be kept on the air. Rap, Hip Hop, Disco and some of the other garbage get high ratings undeservedly so.

    • Larry, music is such a vital part of life. This type of music with its imagery, poetry, social commentary, etc. except for the few that still record and perform it (they are few in number) and those of us who are captivated by it, by and large, has been forgotten. Disco, Rap, and the other trash out there (rock n roll is NOT trash) get airplay because of the fact these records become hits not to mention produce large audiences. Thank you for your astute comment and of course your readership and friendship.