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Crosby and Nash – Songs for Beginners (1971)

June 1, 2011

When it comes to life, we like to think we’re advanced (we’ve got life sorted) or at least in the intermediate stage (half-way there) but if we’re really honest with ourselves, we know we’re all just clueless beginners.

Crosby and Nash put it like this:

I used to be a king and everything around me
turned to gold
I thought I had everything and now I’m left without a hand to hold
[…] I used to be a king and everything around me turned to rust
It’s `cause I built my life on sand
And I watched it crumble in the dust

We found we’re back where we started, building our lives on sand. Beginners. Who am I? We ask ourselves yet again. “Be yourself,” we say to ourselves, but we don’t know who that self is. Crosby and Nash have got something to say about that too:

How does it feel
When life doesn’t seem real
And you’re floating about on your own?
Your life seems uncertain
So you draw the curtain
Pretending there’s nobody home
Don’t theorize
Look in your eyes
They can’t tell lies
Though you may disguise what you see
The mirror is free
We once had a Saviour
But by our behaviour
The one that was worth it is gone
Song birds are talking
And runners are walking
A prodigal son’s coming home
Don’t theorize
Look in his eyes
They won’t tell lies
But if he defies what you see
He’ll give you a key
Be yourself
Be yourself
Be yourself
Be yourself
We needed a tutor
So built a computer
And programmed ourselves not to see
The truth and the lying
The dead and the dying
A silent majority
Don’t theorize
Look in their eyes
Are they telling lies
The ones that they learn on T.V.
What a way to be free
Be yourself
Be yourself
Then you can free yourself
Free yourself
See yourself
Then you can see yourself
Come on and see yourself
See yourself

So what’s the verdict, what is the truth amongst all the lies? Who am I? Maybe we should start by asking who is He? Crosby and Nash mentioned a Saviour, someone who can save us from our identity crisis. Maybe we can only truly know who we are when we are defined as children of God – the prodigal son coming home to the Father, despite “our behaviour”, because of Jesus our Saviour.

Find out more about what it means to be living on crumbling sand in the Simon and Garfunkel review.

(Click on links to listen to Crosby and Nash songs – also, just discovered a Crosby and Nash playlist on youtube – follow the link to listen, starting with ‘Simple Man’, my personal favourite)

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