Friday, October 04, 2013

"Maybe That's Why They Call a Trade a Trade"

My old friend Matt Stannard (debater, law school graduate, rabble-rouser, one-time--and perhaps, in some ways, still--socialist revolutionary, and now an advocate of green communities and local sustainability and publicly-owned banks) sent me this, saying that every decade or so he seems to run across a song that I will "end up loving in a deep, foundational way." Yesterday he sent me this Jeffrey Lewis tune, and he's right: this song is gorgeous, and its lyrics are, I think, practically scripture. I can throw E.F. Schumacher and Matthew Crawford at my students, and I can take them to tour local farms and visit with local producers and craftsmen, and I can talk to them about simplicity and democracy and community, but really, maybe I should just play for them this song.



Time is gonna take so much away
But there's a way that time can offer you a trade

Time is gonna take so much away
But there's a way that time can offer you a trade

You've gotta do something that you can get nicer at,
You've gotta do something that you can get wiser at,
You'd better do something that you can get better at
'Cause that's the only thing that time will leave you with

'Cause time is gonna take so much away
But there's a way that time can offer you a trade

It might be cabaret, it could be poetry,
It might be trying to make a new happy family,
It could be violin repair or chemistry,
But if it's something that takes lots of time that's good

'Cause time is gonna take so much away,
But there's a way that time can offer you a trade.

Because your looks are gonna leave you
And your city's gonna change too
And your shoes are gonna wear through

Yeah time is gonna take so much away,
But there's a way that you can offer time a trade.

You gotta do something that you can get smarter at,
You gotta do something you might just be a starter at,
You better do something that you can get better at
'Cause that's the thing that time will leave you with.

And maybe that's why they call a trade a trade,
Like when they say you should go and learn a trade;
The thing you do don't have to be to learn a trade,
Just get something back from time for all it takes away.

It could be many things, it could be anything,
It could be expertise in Middle Eastern traveling,
Something to slowly sorta balance life's unraveling

You have no choice you have to pay time's price
But you can use the price to buy you something nice
Something you can only buy with lots of time
So when you're old you blow some whippersnapper's mind.

It might be researching a book that takes you seven years
A book that helps to make the path we take to freedom clear
And when you're done you see it started with a good idea
One good idea could cost you thousands of your days
But it's just time that you'd be spending anyway

You have no choice you have to pay time's price
But you can use the price to buy you something nice

So I've decided recently
To try to trade more decently

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