Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bluejay exegesis

The Beatles' song Blue Jay Way (written by George Harrison) starts out describing a "fog upon L.A." in which the singer's friends have gotten lost. "We'll be over soon they said / Now they've lost their way instead." The hypnotic refrain "Please don't be long," repeated over and over, seems to be making a simple point: the singer wants to see his friends and hopes they arrive soon, "or I may be asleep."

However, there is more (much more) to it than this (naturally). Because there is an alternate meaning embedded in the chorus: "Please don't belong." What could this mean? That we, who are the friends George is actually addressing, should not "belong" to the mass consciousness, but break out and join him and his comrades who are sitting in the rarefied regions above the fog. George mentions that probably we asked directions from a policeman on the street: "There's so many there to meet." No, we will not find our way to Blue Jay Way by asking the officer how to get there. We have to follow George's directions, which he says he gave us: "I told them where to go." (Could he be referring to his song Within You Without You on "Sgt. Pepper," in which he talked of realizing how one was really very small in the whole flow of life inside and outside of oneself?)

There's also the possibility that the line means don't be long in the sense of length. Perhaps seeking extension of our lives, our egos, our identities, is counterproductive. Perhaps the longer we stay out stumbling through the fog, the longer we extend our quest and our self-definition, the farther we get from that consummation. And it increases the sense of longing in our lives. George says he will soon be asleep. That was in 1967. Now he really is asleep. And are we any closer to Blue Jay Way? In fact, aren't we a lot farther away then we were?

Still, from the clouds, comes the ghostly refrain: "Please don't be long." We won't, George, we promise. We'll go sit down and get really small, about the size of an atom, then crawl through into one of those higher dimensions which the physicists say are curled up very, very tiny inside our oversized reality.

No comments: