As i look out my window today i see autumn is truly here. The leaves have turned glorious colours as they hang in the still air waiting for the breeze that will lift them onto their final journey. A thought crosses my mind. Perhaps the leaves turn yellow, orange and red in preparation for their return to earth? After all reds, oranges, and yellows are the earth colours, the tones within the brown. Green was the aspiration of Earth in Spring. The urge to rise above, to expand, to grow, to become. Trees and plants put out green as they rose towards the blue sky in order to catch the light, to grow. With the cycle complete and the energy spent it is time to let go. Yet the plant can never ascend, its roots are wedded to the earth. And so the leaves, their life cycle complete, prepare for and signal their readiness to let go. There is a grace in their surrender, and their swell of colour is their final communication and gift to the world.
I shall be released
A line from a song drifts into my head … “any day now, any day now, i shall be released.” The voices are those of The Band during their final farewell concert filmed by Martin Scorsese at Winterland in San Francisco in 1976. I first saw this film “The Last Waltz” many years ago on late night tv and was so captivated by the feeling of the film I watched it all through to the early hours of the following morning. It is probably because I am a child of the 60’s and, though i was too young to participate, i keenly felt the spirit of those times. In any case moments from the film have stayed with me over the years.
End of an Era
By chance i happened to see some clips from this film, including this very song, just last night on YouTube. This song “I Shall Be Released” was the finale of the concert. Many of the great names of that era: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, all gathered on stage to sing this last song together. These artists had come out of friendship and shared experience over many years. The Band had shared the road and stage with them through the sixties. These were the years when the rock lifestyle was authentic, not yet packaged and branded. Performers wrote their own songs, rose up from the grassroots. You only arrived in that world by weaving yourself into it. This was especially true in the case of The Band since they were, as their name suggests, able to be a backing group in addition to releasing their own work. They earned this role through being recognised as the best amongst their peers. Yet they had gone as far as they could living on the road. For them it was the end of the road, yet it also has the feel of an end of an era.
And so as i look at this glorious view from my window, perhaps there is a resonance between this beautiful show of leaves outside my window and that final concert those years ago. A letting go at the end of an era, a final show of celebration before a letting go and a return to earth.