On the Other Side of the Tracks [The Great Migration] Jun30

Share This

On the Other Side of the Tracks [The Great Migration]

There’s only one place that we are yet to make a return trip from, at least as far as we know it, beyond the veil as they once called it. And while we are six feet up instead of six feet under, everything sooner or later seems to be a round trip, in every way shape or form. We live a circular existence. And while we’re running in circles, we slowly build a duality, that at its core we haven’t seemed to fully comprehend. So the best we can do is complain.

As time moves on we say to ourselves…I never thought I’d see that….but eventually you do. The Great book of life, I always like to think, will only end when every possible story has been told, everything you could possibly imagine and everything you couldn’t.

In 1910, a good friend of mine, Burns Lyman Smith, invited me up to Seattle to see his father’s new building, which was under construction. It was to be Smith Tower. Smith’s father was Lyman Cornelius Smith, the world’s richest typewriter magnate. And after they hit the mother load so to speak, Burns, like his father, began to wear his wealth on his sleeve. So he told me I just had to come up and see this new tower they were building – with all that money on his sleeve, I still haven’t figured out why he couldn’t roll up that sleeve and pay for his poor actor musician friend’s train ticket – but now that’s an afterthought and somehow or other I made the trip up from Hollywood to see what he said was going to be the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Back then they were still in the process of raising the streets in Seattle, to make way for a new sewage system that was badly in need. Between the men, struggling to get a glimpse up the ladies’ dresses as they climbed latters from the old sewage strewn sidewalks up to the new street level, and the other fellas just tryin’ not to step in their own shit which was everywhere, folks needed a new distraction.

Back in school Burns had always been the one you could count on, reliable and trustworthy. But since then we’d just had correspondence by mail. I got up there and Burns was nowhere to be found. So I took it upon myself to see the bohemoth of a Tower all by my lonesome. And it was certainly a site to see. But after two days of trudging through excess seawater and poo, to find my once true and steadfast friend, I gave up. Headed to the other side of the tracks and rode home to tinsel town.

Burns had become someone I’d never seen, quite literally. And his building was only so special for forty some years, till that space needle thingy came along. Two more things I thought I’d never see. Sooner or later it all goes south I guess for everyone and everything. What comes up must go down as they say. But don’t get too down, that’s what the blues are for.

I think it’s just the natural course of things. Forces you to incline your mind. Create a new mountain. That’s what survival for the modern man has become. It’s only a matter of time till everybody, one by one, lets you down, so you can remind yourself that you know how to pick yourself up. And it sure does help to sing about it along the way. Up there in Washington the Native Americans call it the changer. Like a strong wind, that changer comes along and even the sturdiest of foundations crumble, that golden smile doesn’t shine any more, those sailors of profit hear a better port calling, and the strongest loves reveal their weakest links. But it’s all to keep you going on to that next destination. Whatever side you end up on, you wave goodbye and that train keeps a movin’….

Download your copy of THE GREAT MIGRATION at iTunes or get the CD HERE.