I have written many essays about attempting to understand things that occur in my life. I understand the obvious things like running out of gas while cutting my grass. I get that type of occurrence. However, things like why am I attracted to something and not to other things haunts me. In the past several months, I have been fascinated by some songs that came out many decades ago. Why?
In a couple of months, I’ll be 75. What’s with my strange sensation about music? For example, Roger Whittaker came out with the song, The Last Farewell, in 1971, which is nearly a half century ago. I’ve listened to that song over and over again. Why? Many of my readers have never heard this recording.
The Last Farewell
I have always enjoyed both the lyrics and melody, but why now? More to the point, why am I writing an essay about it? That haunting question truly bothers me. It nags and nags me with the endless echo, “Why?” As much as I dis my hauntings, if I address them, I will find some explanation for my evocative emotional discomfort. I will get some gain from my pain.
Therefore, off I went to ascertain the meaning behind the haunting The Last Farewell. It turns out that Whittaker had a contest on a radio program that he was the host. The idea behind the contest was to have his listeners submit the lyrics of the song and Whittaker would put the winner’s lyrics to music.
The winner, Ron Webster, was an amateur songwriter who somehow got word of the contest and submitted The Last Farewell. Webster lived in England and was taking a bus home on a dreary and rainy evening. As the rain beat against the windows of the bus, Webster wanted to be in a less drizzly place than in the English Midlands. Webster dreamt of a time long ago and sailing off to some more pleasant surroundings.
Whittaker took Webster’s lyrics and wrote the melody for it. He included it in an album in 1971, but he released it as a single in 1975, which sold more than 11-million copies.
That is the backstory, but what was the storyline of The Last Farewell? The lyrics might have been addressed to the songwriter’s girlfriend. The sailor is giving her his last farewell.
Another spin on the meaning of the lyrics is that the sailor is saying good-bye to England. The farewell might have moved from a person to a country. Or, the farewell could have been addressed to both his loves. I don’t have any drive that haunts me to determine the correct answer. My issue is why am I driven to address The Last Farewell as a song?
My two dances with death have taught me many things, but the two most important are to come alive and the other is that my clock is ticking. I know that I am not immortal, which motivates me to live every moment that I have.
Therefore, after doing the dances, I know that my last farewell is in the offing...a not too distant one. That makes me appreciate my children, grandchildren, and friends. There will be a time that I won’t have any more time with them. I need to be engaged with them.
Then, like the song states,
In my personal case, it is an airplane not a ship that will be ready to fly me to Burma again. There is much for me to do while there. I am still engaged in my attempt to contact Aung San Suu Kyi. However, there are other friends that I wish to see again. I will see them again, twice in the past four years. How much time remains for me to see those friends? This may be my last farewell to them. Talk about haunting feelings.
Having to address some future last farewell has a bipolar emotional feeling about it. It is both sad but also happy. I’m more aware that my clock is ticking...emotionally. Trust me, I know it. You, as you read this essay, know your clock is ticking. However, unless you have done the dance, it is merely intellectual knowledge. Unless you had done the dance with death, the reality of finiteness isn’t felt in your gut. I feel it...trust me.
Perhaps the most haunting reality is for me the haunting issue of my legacy. What will I leave those whom I love? How will I be remembered? That haunts me.
Then here is Ginger.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Music I Love and Why page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Thus Spoke Ginger page to read more about this topic.