In 1977 I wrote a song called "Memories" which I used in a form 5 English essay for school. It was inspired by Sol Roth's death scene in "Soylent Green" (1973) where the aging citizen of a distopian, city-bound society is shown the beauty of the natural world once more before he is killed. In 2015 I sought to clarify and complete the original song that I had written at 15 so I went back and watched the movie again.
I realised that there were substantial parallels between Sol Roth's existence and that of elderly people trapped inside aged care facilities, who lack the strength or will power to venture outside and so are deprived of their connection to nature in the final years. Not only do they miss nature but they miss their youth when they were able to do so many things outside. No longer able to see or do what we are made for, their thoughts turn inside to their own memories, where they can relive their own experiences and remember the beauty.
My original words, as for many teenage songwriters, were simply reeled off the top of my head with no attempt to follow a plan, no additions and no rewriting. As a mature writer I now take a more disciplined and rigorous approach and once I saw what I wanted to say I was ruthless in my rewrite. Only the first 2 and last 2 lines remain and even they have been altered. Sad perhaps, given that the original was quite nice, but necessary. The artist must dictate the work and not the other way around.
And so you see, I'm growing old.
So strange to wonder why.
Wish I could see the countryside,
Once more before I die.
To see again the mountains brown,
Their summits capped with snow,
The pastures green, the grazing herds,
The rushing streamlet's flow.
Once more to see the sky so blue,
To feel the wind and rain,
To touch a tree in woodland glade,
To smell the earth again.
To stand on rock beneath the sun,
On cliff top in bare feet,
And see the arid plains stretch out,
And waver in the heat.
The land goes to the heart of me,
It's deep inside my soul.
It echoes down the endless years,
The mother's gentle toll.
But I am trapped in charmless rooms,
And corridors of grey,
My soul is fed from TV screens,
And meals upon a tray.
No more to ride the sweet back-roads,
Nor climb the mountains high.
No more to swim the raging surf,
Nor chase my dog so spry.
No more to light the BBQ,
And drink with friends so rare.
No more to go out on the town,
And dance without a care.
But my mind goes beyond these walls,
To where I yearn to be.
Tis Nature's land my dream will hold,
And beauty is memory.
Warren Mars - September 2015