Letting My Freak Flag FlyNovember 7th, 2009 at 11:35
Those words crossed my mind this morning and I struggled for a moment to dig into my mind to remember where they were from. I did find it, though the blessed Internet (my “Mind 2.0”) would have found it for me if I had typed those words into a browser. It came to me. That Crosby, Stills and Nash song called… now what was it… ah yes… “Almost Cut My Hair”. Hmmm… I actually did cut my hair, what’s that all about?
But my wonderful “Mind 2.0” got me the lyrics and took me to Wembley, England in 1974 to see the band perform it and told me again the story of David Crosby’s song, included on the Crosby, Stills and Nash album “Déjà vu”, released in March of 1970, probably written in 1969 when I was 14 years old.
Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It’s gettin kinda long
I coulda said it was in my way
But I didn’t and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
Cause I feel like I owe it to someone
David’s hair (thinning even then I recall) was his metaphorical “freak flag”, his flying colors, of his generational statement and challenge to the conventions of the previous generation.
As I said I was 14 at the time and appreciated the sentiment when I first heard the song, but was not quite ready to raise my own banner. But it was just around then when I saw the musical “Hair” in Toronto (naked actors and all) and I was soon lured on stage by the “roar of the greasepaint” to at least experiment with flying my “freak flag” playing a character on stage.
Forty years later I’ve found a life partner, we have two grown kids and a big mortgage, and I’m still, as Jackson Browne said, “Slaving for the legal tender” (which then reminds me of Joe Walsh’s lyric, “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do”.) Even though life happens, and my head is shorn by a number four razor-cut from Supercuts, I still do my best, in my mostly quiet way, to let that “freak flag fly”.
Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I’m not feeling up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like looking at my mirror and seeing a lit up police car
But I’m not giving in an inch to fear
Cause I missed myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone
But it is certainly a challenge, turning 50 four years ago, “over the hill” as it were, wrestling with health and financial issues, losing and finding jobs, continuing to pay that mortgage, to keep that freak flag out there somewhere.
When I finally get myself together
I’m going to get down in that sunny southern weather
And I find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
I feel like I owe it to someone
Well at least I’m living in Los Angeles and I think I continue to find that place inside to laugh and enjoy the adventure of it all, even the adventure of cutting my hair. (It feels so good to feel the wind on my scalp on a hot LA day!) I would not take any of it back or have anything turn out differently… well pretty much at least.
And ever working those metaphors, I have reframed “over the hill” as now finally not working against gravity, leveraging it to spend more time as it were, separating the “wheat from the chaff” and taking stock of an incarnation so far on this planet we call Earth in what we designate as the 21st Century of the “common era”.
In fact, cutting my hair was a challenge to fly my freak flag in perhaps a less obvious but much more profound way in how I live my life among the palms as “the sun comes up on Santa Monica Boulevard.”