Time to go to sea ;-) (Melville, Kristoferson, Cash)

The weather here is depressingly damp and drizzly and being November, when we get a spell like this it always brings to mind this portion of the opening of Moby Dick:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

I especially love that image of knocking people’s hat’s off! For me it’s a great example of where the whole equals more than sum of its part – what poetry and literature should do, expressing the inexpressable. Sometimes I think it’s accidental. Kris kristoferson wrote these lyrics:

And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

I think that his intention with the last line was to say that he – the singer/poet – is coming down from a high – a sort of mental, emotional let down that sets in during the classic “morning after.” But for me that line always evoked something else – for once, when a college student in Virginia, I wandered about the streets of a small city on a Sunday morning such as he describes and I felt a special isolation and loneliness – so what was coming down was not me, per se, but “Sunday morning” itself. Now how does Sunday morning come down? Well, in the way he describes throughout his song. (Lyrics)

I think Johnny Cash does an excellent job with it here and though Ic ould not embed this version, I like it better for its simplicity. The version embedded below is good, too, but the images are an overload for me – i’d rather have them playing in my mind than on the screen. Try both. See what you think.

Or try the duet version with both Cash and Kristoferson: