Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Lee's Traveling Song"

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Friday, March 8, 2013
John Cale
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Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Lee's Traveling Song"

I had the smallest single in Starr Hall.

Even worse, the janitor's closet jutted into my room, every morning I'd wake up to him running the water in the sink.

Talk about depressing.

First semester senior year was a disaster.

I puked twice in bed.

I was burned out on my friends.

I was already gone in my head, but I still had one year to go at Middlebury.

And what got me through was music, most especially Wendy Waldman's initial LP, "Love Has Got Me," a veritable masterpiece which has not faded with age, but has burned bright and is FINALLY available on Spotify.

And if you check it out, start with side two, which has a trilogy of songs that will blow your mind if you believe wooden music is the apotheosis of sound.

Drop the needle on "Old Time Love" and be inspired to LIVE!

And at this point in time, on one level I wanted to DIE!

"Well I love to dance to your music
Keep me movin' all night long
It's that old time love"

That's what music is, my old time love.

And after "Old Time Love" came "Vaudeville Man." You know that number Maria Muldaur built a whole career upon, it's right here, done by its writer. And it's oh-so-magical.

But then comes "Lee's Traveling Song."

I've got no idea who Lee is.

But this is definitely MY song.

"Catch a ride on a plane to California
My mind won't let me be
Whoa, whoa, what will be my destiny"

That's where I'd been before I'd returned to Middlebury. Dropping my sister off at graduate school in Los Angeles. You know how some place just feels like home?

That's L.A. for me.

To return to Vermont was to go someplace I was already done with.

And it was painful.

But when I played Wendy Waldman's debut, I could get through.

The second semester, I got a better room next door, vacated by a recent graduate. It almost got stolen from me by a returning junior, but I made an incredible stink, I DESERVED IT!

But finally, I graduated.

And I set off for the west.

With a cassette of "Love Has Got Me" for the Blaupunkt.

I'd be in godforsaken Wyoming, the middle of nowhere, and I'd play "Lee's Traveling Song" and a smile would cross my face, I'd get hopeful.

And eventually I landed in L.A.

And the rest is history.

Well, that's not true. Oh, I mean it is, but there were so many bumps in the road. People come and gone. Money come and gone. I can finally identify with that Elton John song, "I'm Still Standing." Surviving is quite a feat.

But that's what Wendy Waldman's "Love Has Got Me" has done.

It was a different era. Ask Wendy. A review in "Rolling Stone" made her career.

And I'm hoping forty years later my writing here will inspire you to check this music out. It's my go-to resource. It's my best friend.

It's everything to me.

And hopefully now, it will be to you.

Coda:

"I have a feelin' that there's something waitin' for me
And may it set me free"

I dreamed of moving to California from the time I began watching TV. It seemed to be such a better place, where everybody was FREE!

That's the essence of music, it sets you FREE!

The world is full of b.s. You're thwarted at every turn. But with a great track riding shotgun, you can get by.

"Whoa, whoa, can't you come and go with me"

That's one of the great disappointments of my life. That everybody I wanted to bring with me, to California, to my brand new life of possibilities, couldn't make it.They couldn't take the risk. You've only got one life, be sure to take chances.

"At last, on the road at last, with the echoes of the past ringin' in my ear
Hand, let me take you by the hand, let me lead you across the land and wash away your tears
I wanna wash away your tears"

You can never forget. You can leave the past behind, but it haunts you. When you're trying to fall asleep at night, when you're driving cross-country alone.

I want you to feel good. I want you to smile, I want you to laugh, I want you to enjoy this journey of life, with its plethora of possibilities. I want you to listen to "Lee's Traveling Song" and be INSPIRED!

"And if I find you with your heart down in the city, hey now
A-dreamin' far away
Whoa, whoa, let it be a brand new day"

There are do-overs in life, don't let anybody tell you otherwise. You can reinvent yourself, you can become someone different, the best you. All you've got to do is try, all you've got to do is try.

"Catch a ride on a plane to California
My mind won't let me be
Whoa, whoa, what will be my destiny"

I'm not sure, I'm still reinventing MYSELF!

I know what I'm not, but I'm still figuring out who I want to be.

I hope you are too.

Original Stephen Holden review of "Love Has Got Me" from the October 25, 1973 issue of "Rolling Stone".