It’s 1981 and I’m 19 years old. This is the year of the comeback bands. The Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, and John Lennon all had huge albums and hit singles in ’81.
Lesser known acts like King Crimson released a respectable comeback album. And David Byrne (see 1980) teamed up with producer and ambient wizard Brian Eno to produce an experimental album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, that did quite well.
Myself, I was nostalgic for the old bands and happy they came through with some good, fresh material. I felt that most of the top 40 hit parade was lapsing into sheer garbage. But bands like The Police and Kraftwerk offered new hope and direction for the future of pop.
My first love Jill (not her real name) and I had split up. I had met Heather (not her real name) and literally fell head over heels. My attraction to Heather was pretty overpowering and sorta fit with my burgeoning interest in Carl Jung and his theory of the archetypes.
A Jungian would say I must have been projecting the archetype of “the fair maiden” or something like that onto her. But Heather was also an incredibly nice, level-headed person. I prefer to say that my soul knew we had a future involvement, so I just went for it.
Jill had helped to get me out more in high-school (I was always gregarious at the cottage with my summertime friends). She also unconditionally loved and supported me through the teenage years. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Heather, on the other hand, was my proverbial rod and staff through undergraduate university. It was Heather who told me about applying for graduate scholarships, ultimately transporting me to India for two years. Heather also stuck with me through a challenging year of change. A fine, fine woman.
This song brings back the peace and joy I felt in getting to know Heather. Sadly, it was released after Lennon’s death. But I think most of us were in a kind of denial. Lennon was still ‘alive.’ He had three monster hits.
I’ve played this song on the piano in my own halting style. I love the chord structure. It’s actually a kind of wheel, itself. “Watching the Wheels” reminds me of how Lennon contributed to that carnivalesque aspect of The Beatles. The little honky-tonk and wartime era piano rolls are so delectable!
Lennon’s got the cred. And it shows here.
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