All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
By Blaney Pridgen
“Bird on the Wire” by Leonard Cohen is among my favorite songs. Joe Cocker and Judy Collins made it popular singing in very different renditions. Maybe you know it and the words and tune come immediately to mind. If not, this is a song about independence: “I have tried in my way to be free.” Yet, the images are grim: “Like a drunk in a midnight choir…like a worm on a hook…like a baby stillborn.” This singer wants to be free but is not and even apologizes for any hurt he or she caused in attempting to be free. This is a sad song, but it is also beautiful in a way a lyrically real emotion “you must not ask for so much…” but “hey, why not ask for more?” Try to be as free and as independent as you can, without hurting anybody, knowing that independence is a relative matter by all sorts of controls, regulations, and entrapments. Some are necessary, some are not, and some are downright wicked.
This song finds its way into my mind, my humming and whistling, at least several times a month. I almost religiously, better yet spiritually, play Cocker or Collins singing it every now and then. We all have our special hymns we like to play in the temples of our minds. Perhaps they say more about us, our deeply personal repertoire of favorite songs, then any psychological testing like the MMPI or Myers-Briggs.
“Bird on the Wire” especially comes to my mind this 4th of July, Independence Day. We as a nation are at our best when we struggle again and again to be the land of the free. And I believe as individuals we each discover our personal best when we creatively seek freedom from whatever or whomever would try to enslave or control us. The wires and hooks may constrain our bodies but not our spirits. The spirit will find a way to be free or die. Nonetheless, there will always be some court or religious institution or economic entity or family obligation or autocraticpersonality or cultural expectation fastening wires to our freedom. I believe that it is the American way, true patriotism, to pull hard on the wires. Yes, I know, freedom has its obligations and independence as its limitations, but we must always question the legitimacy of those obligations and limitations. Are they necessary? Do we really need them? Who or what will try to stymie our independence and ultimately enslave us if we let them? It’s the 4th of July, again.