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  • Hello one and all, was it you I used to know?
    Can you hear me callin’ on this old Ham Radio?
    All I’ve got to say, I’m alive and feelin’ fine
    Should you come my way, you might share my poison wine

    No marigolds in the Promised Land, there’s a hole in the ground where they used to grow
    Any man left on the Rio Grande is the King of the World as far as I know.

    I don't want your bread, I don't need your helping hand
    I can't be no savage, I can't be no highwayman
    Show me where you are, you and I will spend this day
    Driving in my car through the ruins of Santa Fe


    No marigolds in the Promised Land, there’s a hole in the ground where they used to grow
    Any man left on the Rio Grande is the King of the World as far as I know…


    I'm reading last year's papers, although I don't know why
    Assassins cons and rapers, might as well die


    If you come around, no more pain and no regrets
    Watch the sun go brown smoking cobalt cigarettes
    There's no need to hide taking things the easy way
    If I stay inside, I might live til Saturday

    (Steely Dan – “King of the World”, from Countdown to Ecstasy, 1974, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen)

    More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/steely_dan/#share


    The apocalyptic tone of this song turned me off a bit when I first heard it in my friend Fred’s basement in Windsor, Connecticut, when I was home on leave from U.S. Naval Boot Camp. That was when I was still filled with the optimism of my new life in this man’s Navy, and I had just had what would be the highlight experience of my 4 + year Naval Career. I am such a freak. Everyone else I know absolutely hated Boot Camp. I loved it from the second day to the last – it was an opportunity to turn my life, and my world, around, and I seized it and made the most of it. I just couldn’t sustain that optimism and that turning of my life around mode.

    Addiction, and the military bullshit, along with all of its “small P” politics, caught up to me and nearly drowned me into the deadly oil, diesel and water mixture that was the bilges in the bowels of a 40 year old Destroyer, “Tin Can” as it was called.

    Three months into that special hell in which I found myself, deep down in the long, hot winter of my disilliuisioned Florida port duty station, a mere 6 months after my high-flying post-Boot Camp optimism, this song became my anthem. I embraced it, held it close to me like a dear old friend, and put it into high rotation on my mental musical soundtrack.

    When I emerged from the smoke and debris of a burning engineroom that nearly claimed my life and that of 2 other shipmates, and found my lungs scarred from breathing black smoke and burns up and down my arms, and half of my hair and my entire mustached singed off, that awful burnt smell lingering in my nostrils and mouth for weeks and weeks, and just about as lonely as a sailor could possibly be, this song played it’s accompanying tune. When the fiance said no and left me high and dry, and the gas crisis left me stranded and AWOL, walking up a deserted Interstate 95 in the middle of Florida, trudging back to a ship that I had no desire to be on any longer, this song played.

    Reading a post from a fellow writer this morning brought it back to me. Someone who seems to be in a similar place where I was, then. Much different circumstances, but a similar mental outlook. I am forever grateful for the little things, like that song, that helped me sail through those most difficult times, until I found an island of sanity out there in the vast ocean of insanity that was my life, and my world outlook, at the time.

    May everyone who finds themselves in a shaky life raft on these difficult seas we find ourselves in, find those little gifts from the universe that occasionally come floating by, that make you feel just a ray of hope, or at the very least, a kernel of understanding, to confirm that you are not, actually, all alone out there.

    There are others in the same boat. Keep an eye out. We’ll find you, or you’ll find us, and we’ll sail through these turbulent seas, these unsettling times, together. You don’t have to go it alone. It’s not a helping hand – I didn’t want that, and I’m sure you don’t, either. We’ll just watch the sun go brown, smoking cobalt cigarettes. Maybe even share a laugh about it. And, maybe we’ll live ‘til Saturday.
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