I’m rather involved writing this paper so, I thought, I’d continue in the tradition of self-contained self-expression that this blog has become by posting something light; namely, Jules and The Gang’s smooth, soft and silky rendering of “Walking in Memphis”; soothing listening at the end of a day that feels as if I've been endlessly shoveling coal into the furnace of some great steam engine.
Jules and the Gang now call themselves “Rosie and the Gang” after their enchanting princess of a lead singer.
According to singer-songwriter Marc Cohn who wrote the song, Walking in Memphis is....
.... 100 percent autobiographical. The moment I wrote it, I had no idea I was writing a hit, but I knew I was writing something that deeply defined so many facets of me — my conflicting feelings about religion, about my own state, my humor about it, my acceptance about everybody in terms of what they believe……. There's nothing clear about what I'm writing, in terms of spirituality……It's a pretty literal transcription of a visit I made there in 1986. I went to Graceland, I heard Al Green preach the gospel, I saw W. C. Handy's statue. But the song is about more than just a place, it's about a kind of spiritual awakening, one of those trips where you're different when you leave. (Read the full account on Wiki)
I don’t think Cohn had any clear idea about what kind of spiritual awakening it was, although I can understand his line about “….my conflicting feelings about religion…”; many of us get those feelings at some time or another. Perhaps that’s what John Bunyan meant by “Doubting Castle”. Like Cohn’s spirituality the words of the song are not a model of clarity and coherence but seem to hint at a deeper intuitive meaning. In Memphis Cohn had some kind of emotional high, a self-actualization and fulfillment. But feelings are fickle, here today and gone tomorrow. The following song by Rosie and Co records a very different experience of life; for people in this state, hackneyed and cliched answers are an affront. For the forsaken and desolated there is only one respectful response; to get down there beside them - that's what I call real spirituality!
….this land of broken dreams…. happiness is just an illusion,…..Filled with sadness and confusion….What becomes of the broken hearted….. I walk in shadows…..Searching for light…..Cold and alone, ….. Always moving and goin' nowhere….All is lost, there's no place for beginning, All that's left is an unhappy ending.