It may be because I am so tired of political news, from Trudeau to Trump, from Brexit to Doug Ford, that I decided to take a mental time travel trip these past few days. It’s a wonderful thing to do, and everyone should do it regularly.
At first, I was going to take an actual time travel trip, but my time machine is doing strange things. Doctor Who’s machine, the Tardis, looks on the outside like an old-fashioned police call box, once common around the United Kingdom when technology was simpler. Mine takes the form of an old-fashioned Irish phone box, which means that, most of time, it doesn’t work. There is a slot where you put in coins, and two buttons to push, depending on whether you get through to the person you’re calling, or want your money back.
My machine obviously thinks that it’s a real phone box, because half the time it won’t take the coins to make it work, and the rest of the time it won’t give me my money back. When it does work, I open the door, only to find myself nowhere near where I thought I was going in time. Instead of visiting my great-grandfather, I find myself trying to communicate with my great-great-great-grandson. It seems that future generations will continue to lose the ability to communicate in English, and will only speak in abbreviations and acronyms. Actually, “speak” is the wrong verb to use here, because they only use text, even when you’re standing right there in front of them.
But I am getting off the point, aren’t? You ask, “How would I know, I don’t even know what your point is!” And you would be right. My point is that, every now and then, it is nice to slip back in time, mentally, and remember the songs, the movies, the TV shows, and the way of life you had in an earlier time. Which time in your life you choose is completely up to you. In my case, I have become fond of revisiting 1970. Yes, some of us are that old.
In 1970, I was fifteen and just starting to look around me at the wide world out there. You and I will have different memories of 1970, because we were probably growing up in different countries and cultures. But there is much we shared back then. It was, without a doubt, one of the greatest years in popular music, even though the Beatles broke up that year. They were absolutely at the centre of my musical world, then and now. I must admit, though, that McCartney singing “The Long and Winding Road” made me somewhat resigned to the break-up. I found it boring.
I loved all kinds of music then (still do) and my favourites in 1970 ranged from Lola, by the Kinks, to Close to You, by the Carpenters. Karen Carpenter’s voice was just so smooth and warm. Ray Davies was almost the opposite, and that suited Lola really well. There was My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, All Right Now, by Free, I Think I Love you by the Partridge Family. I could go on and on: Cracklin’Rosie was my introduction to Neil Diamond. In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, the beautiful Fire and Rain by James Taylor. An amazing album, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel – what a way to go. And my immersion in Canadian music: American Woman by the Guess Who, or Big Yellow Taxi by Joni. I had already fallen deeply under the spell of Leonard Cohen the previous year, when Songs of Leonard Cohen burst on my consciousness.
Aside from music (is there anything aside from music that sticks with you for so long?), there were the great movies of 1970. Think about this list: M.A.S.H., Patton, Catch-22, Kelly’s Heroes, Little Big Man, The Aristocats, and Love Story. Yes, Love Story: what young man was not in love with Ali MacGraw? Some great quotable scenes: “I’m not talking legality, Preppy, I’m talking ethics!”, and “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. That last one was so misunderstood: it didn’t mean you don’t have to say you’re sorry when you hurt the one you love. It means that the one you love doesn’t have to say sorry when they hurt you. Though, of course, they should; but you love them anyway.
You see? Mental time travel gets you philosophising, singing, thinking, dreaming and generally basking in the past of warm and pleasant illusions. Yes, there was also the negatives, just like today, the scandals, wars, protests and struggle. But they are not what mental time travel is all about.
So, have you ever thought about where you would go on a mental time travel trip? It’s worth going there, because, in the words of one who was there: What a long, strange trip it’s been!”