Song written by Nathaniel Rateliff
Performed by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
This is the the first timeless classic of the new century.
And that changes everything.
Let me explain.
There are thousands of great songs out there- some are really great. But timeless classics are those few golden nuggets that never go out of date, never stop affecting you, and have that wide-ranging impact where you can beat them and twist them and misappropriate them, but they never stop reaching into your spirit and making a home in the deepest parts of your heart.
I’m talking about songs like Soul Man and Got to Get You Into My Life and Blowin’ in the Wind. All right, those are all from the 60s, but others seeped through since then. You will know them by the way they have always been a part of you even on a first hearing.
But our digitally fractured culture makes it exponentially more difficult for greatness to reach a plateau of commonality. With the advent of recorded music and a distribution system that allowed songs to get out there, we had Sing, Sing, Sing and music was off to the races. Sure, we could look backwards, even then. The important thing was the way that everyone, including the musicians, was listening to each other and the world beyond their immediate surroundings. People may have always wanted to stick their heads into the air and look around like a curious meerkat, but the horizon was always too close to offer true perspective. For decades in the twentieth century, technology expanded the channel of information, but we have learned that it is possible to go too big. When you let everything in, the human mind begins to shut down and we filter for convenience, not for quality.
So, the art that breaks through in popular culture becomes that which can most easily be marketed by powerhouses with the most access to the most channels of communication. If you can’t find the ears, then it becomes difficult to become a timeless classic. All art is like that, of course. We will never know what phenomenal creations are lost forever, but such is history. The world is rarely A Canticle for Leibowitz.
But I said that this song changes everything. My apologies, but nothing that I just said has changed. I merely meant that it changes everything for me. You see, countless times on this Earth, I have been in the doldrums and worse. And the one thing that I really need- the one thing I always need- that thing I’ve got to have just to make it one more day is a couple minutes of art that tells me the world is still spinning and joyful and thoughtful and full of connections that might just mean things will work out. Because art is connection. Little Richard and Los Lobos are among those who have done it before for me.
And I was wondering if those moments were still available, not so much for me, but for the rest of the world. Well, I’m here to tell you that I can fade away in peace because Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have given us I Need Never Get Old and I know again that other friends await on the journey.
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 245 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out are released regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry are posted irregularly. Notifications are posted on Facebook which you can receive by friending or following Craig.