Readers of a, uh, certain age might remember this phrase from the John Denver song, “Leaving, on a Jet Plane.” I first heard the song when I went to see the Chad Mitchell Trio in high school at the old Cellar Door nightclub at 34th and M Streets in Georgetown. Denver was the replacement for Chad Mitchell, who had left the group to pursue an individual career. It was quite clear that John Denver was far more talented than the other members of the Trio. He sang like a bird and played a fabulous Guild 12-string.
At the time I thought “Leaving, on a Jet Plane” was the saddest song I had ever heard. I used to play and sing it myself, and, like most of the songs when I sang them, it was a big lie. First of all, the song supposes that the singer has a girlfriend whom he is leaving. I did not have a girlfriend to leave, and if I did I wouldn’t have left her. Secondly, I didn’t go anywhere, on a jet plane or anything else. As a high school and college student, I couldn’t afford to go anywhere and actually had no place to go if I could have afforded it. Now that’s sad.
I was interested that the song had a resurgence of popularity in the late 90’s when Alyssa was listening to it and actually learned to play it on guitar. (She has since gone to the ukulele, saying the guitar hurts her hands. Well, the uke is a cute little instrument ideally suited to her size and she uses it with her children’s choir.) If you’re not familiar with the song, here’s a link to Denver doing it in concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLBKOcUbHR0 (The video quality is funky, but it has a good audio.)
Anyhow, all of this is to say I’m headed today for Atlanta to spend a few days with my brother Ron, a retired Delta pilot and all-around good guy and his lovely wife Sherry. This is a break for me since my dad and I have been through a difficult year with his leg bypass operation last November, infection of the wound, falls, hospitalizations, rehab stays, move from a senior living center to an assisted living facility, countless doctor and emergency room visits and taking down his household. If you have care of an elderly person (and many of you do), you know how exhausting (and fulfilling at the same time) it can be.
I’ll be back Wednesday and am looking forward to the time to hang out with Ron, visit some guitar shops and book stores and eat in some of his favorite restaurants. He and Sherry have been a big support as we have dealt with my mom’s illness and death and my dad’s health problems. I should be able to report on our activities and my trip back. Pace.