Further along in my new work on my 1000 years of Greek island loving, tentatively titled, Notes on Hydra, I dredge up a second song in which I wallowed in those escapist days. This song, sung by Mary Hopkin from 1968:
Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we could do
Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
I’m not kidding, that was the song. Not, Bridge over troubled water, not Raindrops keep falling on my head. A real hand-wringer. Like What have they done to my song, ma, Those were the days… got played again and again. Listen, tears will seep from any dry eye:
Thinking back, that song was everywhere at the time. On TV: All in the Family, 1971, beamed weekly from an attached house in Queens. In Russian from which the poem by Konstantin Podreusky – Dorogoi Dinnnoya [The long road) – a version of the original lyrics translated by Gene Raskin – balalaika, clarinet, etc., eyes brimming with tears. Even in Venice, Italy: Andre Rieu, tears overflowing unstoppably. And then again in concert with strong horseradish, a Gefilte fish commercial:
Rokeach gefilte fish,
Bringing this musical archeological dig to completion might just cause the final squeeze in the wringing of the wet wash cloth of nostalgia. Seems like I was having nostalgia for nostalgia even before I had experiences that might have caused nostalgia. Encrypted at the time, no doubt, still, where does melodrama stop and nostalgia begin?
Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me?
As it happens, a lifetime later, the answer is no.