I’m listening to Tracey Chapman, a bootleg compilation with no sleeve notes or track names, so I’m playing a guessing game, which are the songs of youth and which, to paraphrase Blake, are the songs of experience.
And actually, it’s not hard at all.
I remember Seeing her at Live Aid, she must have been impossibly young, an ordinary looking black girl with a battered acoustic guitar, somehow carving up her 10 minutes amongst the monster egos of the 80s supergroups and the boys with electric guitars, complicated hairdos and synthesised drum beats.
And we were all talking about revolution then, actions fuelled by anger, outrage, sure of our targets, certain of our rightness.
But we get older, revolution seems beyond us when the most revolutionary act is to create a place where we and our partners hide when the outside world seems determined to get us, to chew us up into tiny pieces, sometimes revolution is just keeping going, so I can listen to a song about opening your arms when your lover gets home and recognise the revolutionary act in simply keeping this relationship alive, post AIDS, post the rebirth of the far right, the Militant Christians.
Being a revolutionary tires us, we looks inwards, set boundaries, raise our eye brows in cynical ennui when the younger ones talk about change. We have been there and worn the t-shirt too many times. We still want to love but throw down a simple challenge, I can love you, but not if its going to take too much of the little energy I have left, you better give me a good reason to turn back, to let me, let you back into my life. I don’t know if she’s talking about an individual or the capacity to still believe in love.
But she’s still talking about a revolution and I wonder when I stopped.