Meanings Will Change

I did some time traveling yesterday, but managed to return safely to my office. I must admit though, I didn’t want to come back.

On my digital turntable was Paul and… the first solo album from the guy on the middle of Peter Paul and Mary which was released in 1971. I’m not sure what brought him to mind, but I knew if I looked online I would find some music. Sure enough, the streaming service I subscribe to had that 50-year-old album (and others, I listened to some I owned back in the day and a couple of more recent releases).

There is something special about the music you listened to when you were young. Songs are associated with a particular place in time, usually a happy one. This record I would play over and over as Paul mixed serious tunes with humor – and on this record the first recording of his best-known solo song, “The Wedding Song.”

That tune Paul (who now uses his first name, Noel, would describe as a gift from God. So much so that he assigned the royalties to charity – forfeiting more than two million dollars in income.

I spent 40 years on and off working in radio, and one of my favorite experiences was sitting down with Noel backstage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in, I think, the spring of 1983. He was with Peter and Mary, one of their sporadic reunion tours.

The interview was a lot of fun – I probably still have the cassette somewhere. His desire was to not only answer the questions, but to make sure I had a good time.

Basically, he wanted me to feel like family. Which meant he wanted me to meet the other family members too – Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers. They also were nice to chat with, though we didn’t get into any deep conversations. They were getting ready for a show after all.

Yesterday, as I listened to that old record one song struck me in a more powerful fashion. There’s a link to “Meanings Will Change” at the top of this post, and the lyrics are below.

Maybe it is that about 30 years have passed since I last listened to this song, but the words had a deep impact as I listened. I guess it is one of those songs that takes on deeper meaning as you age.

Tell me what you think of it.

Meanings Will Change

Meanings will change as you learn to grow
And all that is known becomes suddenly old
And that which you had to last you ’til the end
Turns out to be just a passing friend
And would you spend your life away
Collecting great treasures
So you’d be safe someday?
And when you’re old, and when you’re gray
Meanings will change; life’s just that way
When you’re finally sure
You think you understand
All about living and life’s demands
Someone will touch you and you’ll see again
Meanings will change; you just can’t win

So don’t you worry ’bout your money friend
Don’t you worry ’bout your fame
It’s all a conspiracy; all part of a game
And you’re the conspirator; the silent enemy
And you’re the victim. You finally see
After you get to where you have to be
After you own everything you see
When meanings don’t change
About the things you knew
You might as well die, it’s all over for you

If you’re wise and if you know
What few things are real which never grow old
Then take them now and make you a start
With a simple life and a simple heart


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