Jul 182011

John Lennon once described the task of writing lyrics to that of writing post cards – not much space in which to say a lot. And when you take in both his earlier work with the Beatles and his follow-up solo work, it has to be said that no one did it better. Take for example the lyrics to Watching the Wheels:

“People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing,

Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin.

When I say that I’m okay they look at me kinda strange,

Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game?”


I think this is something anyone of a certain age – or at least my age – gets.

Say you’ve been successful at your career, right? And, even though there have been certain parts you haven’t liked it’s paid the mortgage, sent the kids to college and provided you with a damn good living.

Now, it no longer fits – it’s just not ‘you’ anymore. You start thinking long-term … can see the end in sight. You start wondering about your legacy.

Of course your friends (maybe even your family) think you’re crazy, but you’re not the same person anymore. You see self-fulfillment as survival – they don’t.


“People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away.

Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me.

When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall,

Don’t you miss the big time boy you’re no longer on the ball?”


You’ve not only managed to ‘stop and smell the roses’, you’ve come to a full stop. Not only are you “watching shadows on the wall,” or reflecting on your life, you are now mapping out your future actions and their future consequences. You’re ‘in the zone’ of your own life … the renewing of your body, mind, heart and soul … not just being on the (materialistic) ball.


“I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,

I really love to watch them roll.

No more riding on the merry-go-round,

I just had to let it go.”


Now you’re living your life with purpose versus letting your life be controlled by circumstances which, like a merry-go-round, ends up going nowhere, fast.

With the poet’s eye, you’re ‘marching to the beat of a different drummer.’ No more worrying what you should and ought to do.

No wonder he says he had to let it go! (One foot in the past is no way to stand on your own two feet in the future.)


“Ah, people asking questions, lost in confusion

Well I tell them there’s no problems, only solutions.

Well, they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind,

I tell them there’s no hurry; I’m just sitting here doing time.”


Now, in my opinion, this is where John Lennon really sets himself apart as a powerful songwriter. His clarion call is that there are only solutions. How great it would be if we all assumed this attitude! And, when you think about it, what options do we have? Counter-intuitively he also adds that there’s no hurry. During his life, Lennon reminded us that the time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.


What that says to me is that life is for the asking, not for the taking – it’s a gift. You’ve heard of ‘pie in the sky’ tomorrow … what about the bread of life today?

For a guy who got accused of being anti-Christian (saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus), he expressed – through his music – many of the basic truths all religions espouse. To Lennon peace and love were not a cliché of the 60s – he said peace and love were eternal – which shows you can’t judge a songbook by its cover.

In his last interview – before his murder – John Lennon said that the whole message of the Beatles was to first learn to swim and then swim. Maybe this song offers a way to do just that. As he penned in another classic:

“Nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields forever”                                                                        Lennon’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (2011)


Jul 022011

I was standing in the bank one day – waiting my turn in line.

At the counter, two service employees were trying to explain to an almost frantic customer why it was she couldn’t take money out of her joint account, even though it consisted of mainly her earnings.

A couple a places down from her another situation was being played out as a woman was trying to cash a cheque that was 24 hours too early. In the corner of my eye, I saw her partner anxiously watching from a cushioned bench reserved for folks coming in for a loan.

Behind me, people were impatiently shuffling their feet. I would have normally been doing the same; but not after seeing people struggling to keep financially afloat.

Then I realized that we were all in the same boat; especially when you consider that almost all of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 1% of the population. As I looked around at all the folks in the bank that day – on both sides of the counter – I doubted if any of that 1% could be found there. So why would any of us be impatient at the plight of others? What about their children? It’s just sad.

For a brief instance I was standing in the shoes of my former self … like the folks at the counter. Has anyone not been down that road, at some point? And, after counting our own blessings, surely we are rich enough to afford others a little empathy.

The problem is, at a time when many have been deeply hurt by the global recession, these past couple of years, others (both business and personal) have barely known it existed … but that’s changing. 

The reason? It’s because of our inter-connectiveness.

That lack of purchasing by those less fortunate is now impacting the fortunes of those next on the food chain – especially in Retailing. When those employees also start maxing out their credit cards – just to buy groceries for example – then the whole house of economic cards threatens to fall. Next thing … the well-to-do are selling their yachts!

How could it be otherwise in our global economy?   

Yet today, when everyone is equally at economic risk, some ordinary folks are still acting as if they were first and their peers last … something to do with who has the most toys. 

How ‘hick’ is that and how ironic! 

They not only are devoid of the vast riches of this life; but they themselves are considered the last in life by those uncaring souls who are both super rich and lost. Ah, us ‘working class heroes’ – ain’t we something to see?

As for extreme world poverty, I can’t even imagine. This is something I know very little about. And it’s true what they say – everybody hates a ‘tourist’.

Why? Well to paraphrase an astute observation, when you’re looking down from the top of a Ferris wheel (which by relative comparison includes most of us) … people (the world’s very poor) are just dots on our collective radar screen of life. 

How can this be? After all, history tells us that this polarizing situation between the classes is not sustainable. And, as I think of the future impact on my grandchilden, I’m reminded of the infamous quote by King Louis XVI leading up to the French Revolution,“Après moi le deludge”. Yet again, that was then; so maybe today – being globally connected – we’ll know better … and that wouldn’t hurt.  

One of Roy Orbison’s last recordings, ‘The Only One’, probably says it best:

“Everyone you knows been through it,                                                                       

Bite the bullet, and then you chew it.                                                                                            

… And you’re the only one, who will give again.


                                                                               fredparry.ca  2011