Finding Montana

horses_and_hillsMontana’s a beautiful place.
I like it. Maybe because it’s about the least populated place this side of the moon.
On the surface, “Montana,” could be just a song about a guy from Montana who wants to go back home.
Or there could be more to it than that…

What exactly is home?
Just a geographical location?
I don’t think so.

One of my favorite films is Sam Peckinpah’s classic, The Wild Bunch. There’s a scene in which this gang of aging outlaws, past their prime and past their time, are taking five in a little village in Mexico. The leader of the gang, Pike Bishop (William Holden), is sharing some booze with a village elder, Don Jose (Chano Urueta) and is astounded at seeing a couple of his trigger-happy desperados frolicking in the river, splashing around like seven-year-olds.
“We all dream of being a child again,” the elder shrugs wisely. “Even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all.”

Sure, home is where you grew up.
But home isn’t just a place.
It’s a time.
A time when you were new and fresh, and the world was full of wonder and mystery, and every dream seemed possible.

Then you make choices.
The choices all seem “right” at the time, or you convince yourself they are. But every choice you make eliminates some possibilities and makes others inevitable.
Doors close.
Bridges burn.

Maybe you choose yourself right into a corner.
Maybe you lose track of where your choices were supposed to take you, the person you were supposed to be.
Maybe you look in the mirror one day and 20 years have gone by and you’re farther from your dream than ever, and you count your losses and ask, like Jake Holman in The Sand Pebbles, “What happened? What the hell happened?”

Yeah. First you make choices; then your choices make you.

It’s easy to get caught up in chasing shadows on the wall of the cave.
Extrinsic rewards.
Artificial things.
Fame. Money. Sex.

Maybe you do all this stuff, get all this stuff and yet you find yourself asking, “Is that all there is?” Maybe you realize that you long for something else, something more, something real.

The thing is, you realize it too late. Before you can say tempus fugit, you’re so far off course that you’re not even sure what galaxy you’re in.
Way past that point of no return.
And the farther from your dream you’ve gone, the more you long to start over, go back home, find your way back to your Montana.

Part of the thing about childhood for most people is that they don’t have to be responsible for too much. They can kick back and let somebody else drive.
If you’ve ever been on the road a long time to the point that, despite multiple cups of bad coffee, you can barely keep your eyes open and focus, you know that letting somebody else drive for a while can have a lot of appeal.

But there isn’t anybody else.
There’s just you.

Like a boxer, you’re in the ring all alone.
So now it’s the last round and you’re way behind on points, and you can hardly hold your arms up, let alone throw effective punches. But you know the only way you can win it at this point is by knock-out.
So somehow you keep going.
Somehow you get up off that stool.
You answer the bell one more time

I think we’d all like to believe this guy makes it back to Montana.
Back to Shangri-La.
Bali-Hai.
Blue Bayou.

We hope that he recaptures his long-ago dream, the freshness and optimism of his childhood, because, if he does, then there’s a chance that we might be able to do it, too.
And we desperately need to believe in that possibility.

Now, I wouldn’t advise you to lay any heavy bread on our hero’s success.
But me, I’m famous for playing long shots.
I may be the only person on earth who bet on Douglas over Tyson.

Sometimes, the impossible happens.
And when it does, it’s sweet, don’t you think?

 

 

Players on “Montana” include: Bill King, drums; Rich DePaolo, bass; Molly MacMillan, piano; Judy Hyman, strings (she also did the string arrangement) and yours truly doing the vocal. Back-up vocals by Jennifer Middaugh. As always, recorded and mixed by the impeccable Will Russell at Electric Wilburland.

If you haven’t done it yet, you can get “Montana” for free by signing in, stage right.

If you’ve already gotten that free download, and like what you hear, you can hear more here.

And if you’ve already gotten that one, kick back awhile and I’ll have more for you before too long..

Thanks for listening.

Talk to you soon. Take care,

sj

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