Been Through the Desert

Trivia: What band had hit songs that were about two fictional men, the Tin Man and the Sandman? I know this because I was born over 40 years ago, and because my older step-sister had the Greatest Hits (History) album which includes both songs. It was one of the records she would put on some nights to help hide any noise she might make as she was sneaking out her window to go to some party. I would lay in my bed in the next room, wondering what would happen if she got caught, while the words. “I understand you’ve been running from the man, that goes by the name of the Sandman…” were throbbing through my brain.

Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I’ll give another clue. Growing up, I had the honor of living with the “Flag Lady.” That’s what some locals kindly called my mom because she faithfully flew our country’s flag from a pole in our front porch every single day. Our country and the band share the same name. Got it now? It’s…America!

I’ve been listening to those old America songs lately, and I think that perhaps a resurgence in popularity for them might just be what our country needs. We need the thought-provoking distraction of poetic imagery in pulsing phrases, such as “He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye of a hurricane that’s abandoned.” (Sandman) We need common sense advice like, “Don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide.” Of course, we might want to switch up the words a little…something like, “Don’t lend the money if they can’t pay the loan.”

Think of all the couples separated by military service. I’m sure they can relate to the words, “I need you like the flower needs the rain, you know I need you…” (I Need You) And then there’s that other man, The Tin Man. Many people are probably familiar with the suggestions that The Wizard of Oz (the movie which, of course, features the Tin Man) is said to be a parable on the political situation at the beginning of the 20th century. Political commentary is never out of date in America! But, it’s more important to remember that, “Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t, didn’t already have…”

Then there’s the song that started out with the title, The Desert Song. “There were plants and birds and rocks and things- There was sand and hills and rings…” Desert-dwellers like me can easily relate to those words. “A Horse With No Name” was reportedly banned from radio play in some areas because some believed “horse” was a reference to the street name for heroin. It also caught grief for its grammar, i.e., “cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.” Band member and the song’s writer, Dewey Bunnell said, “I’ve never actually spoken that way, but I think it conveys a certain honesty when you’re not picking and choosing your words, and you use that kind of colloquialism.” [source: America Fans website] Colloquialism and song. What a downpour for the deserts in our lives!

I could use a little more downpour in my desert right now. Lately, so much has been going on that I’ve felt like a drained, vast, wasteland. Maybe I need a horse.


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