I was a prepubescent, high octane, emotionally fragile youngen when I started to watch the 1980s American TV series The Wonder Years. I had never seen a show that encapsulated so accurately the frenetic and potent thoughts of a young boy, like myself. In many ways it unlocked the mystery of growing up in an everyday family, including the frustrations of relating to the opposite sex. I felt in some way relieved and reconciled after watching the show, realising I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
One episode in particular, I found deeply moving, (yes prebuscent males can feel deeply moved) involved Kevin’s sister becoming a peace-loving radical, running away from home and joining her boyfriend in a hippy commune.
A folk song called “Catch the Wind” played tenderly as the show drew to a close. (See the you tube video below)
In the chilly hours and minutes
Of uncertainty, I want to be
In the warm hold of your loving mind.
To feel you all around me,
And to take your hand, along the sand.
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.
Looking back, I found this episode, and particularly this scene, a pivotal moment in my growing up. It included the narrator’s words of wisdom about how people were trying to find their way in life, only to find their way home again.
I knew I had to find the songwriter of Catch the Wind and buy one of his albums. Someone, a friend, I don’t know who, but I wish I knew now, put Bob Dylan’s hat into the ring as the likely author of this wonderful song. I snapped up my first Bob Dylan record called Lost in the Flood because it had a song called Blowing in the Wind which sounded pretty close to the song on the Wonder Years I was so desperate to find. Of course, I found out soon enough that it was not Bob Dylan who wrote Catch the Wind, rather a remarkably similar folk artist from Britain called Donovan who by coincidence appeared with Dylan in one of the greatest music documentaries ever made, Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan’s tour of England in 1965. In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Dont Look Back the joint ninth best documentary film of all time.
Buying that Dylan tape Lost in the Flood would be the spark that eventually fired me into a musical journey of complexity and profound influence unlike anything I could have imagined.
Perhaps trying to emulate my favourite artist, I started to write poems and lyrics about all the stuff happening in my life. Afraid I might be embarrassed and lead a terminal bullied life at school, I kept these written notes a secret. If they got out on the street or, much worse, into a school newspaper to join the bona fide list of school try-hards, the game was up.