I find myself in that odd place where we all occasionally pause--because we can express our deep feelings in music, but sometimes find it difficult or impossible to express them in spoken words. Listening to Judy Collins and the exquisite beauty of her singing, I feel the chills.....I clearly remember events of a decade and a half century ago....I recall vividly how those of us in the 60's, who were tormented and torn between love and anger, between war and peace, between hope and we nestled in the refuge of music like a bear cub, wrapped in the safety of its warm winter den.

     As we approach the half-century anniversary of the end of the 1960s, we find our world and our nation deeply immersed in conflict, confusion, polarities, extremes of beauty and ugliness. I believe we need music more now than many of us ever have. As is typical of people my age, I worry a bit that the brevity and speed of communication in today's world may be robbing us of some of the deepest riches of communicating with one another. In the '60's many of us got blissfully lost in the long, winding songs of Judy Collins and Bob Dylan and Tim Buckley, the poetry of Carl Sandburg, the magic of places like the Grand Canyon, and the immensity of Woodstock and meditation and outer space and outdoor parties that went on for days. Today, it is sometimes hard to reckon with the distance between those sensations, and the blurring rapidity of a two-minute hiphop song, or a 30-second commercial, or a text message that escapes our memory as soon as we read it. When I see a train full of people staring at their phones and ignoring the clouds and birds and faces and hills outside the windows, I sometimes wonder if we have lost our voices and let our songs fade away.

     Music helped so many of us survive Vietnam and Watergate and the Kennedy assassination, and the recognition of how vast were poverty and hatred around the world. We were shocked by divorce rates and nuclear weapons, but music helped us express and study and interpret all such things. In 2018 it feels like the world is dealing with many of the same shocks and challenges we faced back then. The best advice I can offer from a long life in music is to sing it, write it, feel it, dance it, listen to it, and above all -- share it.

         ---James Gibson



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