|Day 61: Ringo Starr (It Don't Come Easy)
June 26, 2020
Another week down in the year from Hell. So much accomplished, so much still to do. You know it don't come easy. Crap, nothing comes easy. 4+ weeks to re-do a Fall course schedule to meet social distancing needs, a house of cards, threatening to collapse every time I even tried to adjust a course. A contentious issue where attempts to manage backfired. An assurance argument that won't write itself, and in four days, a response to an assurance argument that won't write itself. And it goes on and on and no one wants to hear it because none of this is coming easy to any of us. Despite all of this, Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" plays and seems to mock my exhaustion.
To be clear, I will admit that I may not have paid my dues to sing these blues. My life is freaking easy compared to others. I am not dying in a choke-hold on the streets of Minneapolis. I am not fighting a local township over a backed up sewer line. I am not catching (or not catching) my breath in an ICU separated from my loved lines. I am not even catching my breath in a hospital break room before going back to do my round with patients waiting to die.
Still, I wish things came as easily as they appear to come to Ringo Starr. George Harrison drops in to provide the guitars and co-ghost-write the song, Gary Wright (of "Dream Weaver" fame) shows up to play the piano, Klaus Voorman (famed session musician and producer) offers to play the iconic bass line, while Pete Ham (fresh from Badfinger's moment in the sun) waltzes in and provides background vocals. Things only seem to get even easier for Starr with Ringo, the subsequent album that followed "It Don't Come Easy." That album featured cameos by all three of the other Beatles, Billy Preston ("Will It Go Round In Circles"), The Band, Harry Nilsson, Martha Reeves, an aural equivalent of Hollywood A-listers putting in appearances for some beloved B-lister's first major movie (sorry, Ringo).
"Open up your heart," Ringo sings, "let's come together/use a little love/and we will make it work out better." That's a damn easy line to sing when you're standing in a recording studio looking out over your stable of friends who came together.
This crap doesn't happen elsewhere in life. No fellow chief academic officer rings me up on a Sunday night to say, "I hear you're writing that thing for accreditation. Mind if I bring my I-pad around and I add a little something to Criterion 3. I've had this rationale going around in my head for days, and your work seems to align perfectly." Strengthening their own record is consuming enough.
"It Don't Come Easy" is an easy hit. There's no other way to say it. The song glistens, motoring along in a brisk 3 minutes as propelled by the guitar, bass and horns especially.
In fact, there is a video of Ringo for this song where he is out in a barren snow-filled landscape all alone in a snowmobile, skiing, and playing a piano. He plays the piano with full winter gloves on. Yeah, the "it don't come easy" sentiment falls as flat on its face as Starr does with the skiing.
Let's face it, the guitar from its opening moments is pure Harrison. On top of that are the cheeky horns. This is all the soundtrack I need when some faculty tell me that fall classes need to be online while others tell me they shouldn't. It's the soundtrack I need when I can't get any answers from one quarter for how Fall classes can be run and I get tons of answers from another quarter about how those classes should run. It's the soundtrack I need when I have to review an institution during a time when I think all reviews should be postponed. It's the soundtrack I need when someone complains to a higher up and not directly to me, or when someone complains to me and not to someone higher up who might be able to fix the problem. It's the soundtrack I need when "I don't ask for much/I only want your trust."
Still, it says something when this is the song that comes to mind in times of trouble. Not McCartney's freaking "Let It Be" (nice enough song, but do we have to hear it at charity event?). Not Lennon's hypocritical "Imagine," even if he truly did believe it. And not even Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," although it pops up, with visions of Prince as he drops the guitar, in many other amazing moments.
Then again, this is Ringo. Unflappable, happy-go-lucky, desperate-to-please Ringo. Maybe it don't come easy even to them, but nice guys don't always have to finish last.
"It Don't Come Easy." Ringo Starr. Trident. 1971. Link here.
Day 60: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "American Girl."
Day 62: Heart "Barracuda." ->
See full unfinished list here.