Mad Ol’ Man

Mad Ol’ Man – Mad Ol’ Man
What terrible beauty, the Mad Ol’ Man
Cut from the womb of his young man’s hand
With which was used to reap his land
Trod beneath the foot he no longer had
-lost it was as the man went mad-
In search of truth, a terrible beauty slammed
The brain from stem ’til but he had but a dram
Imbibed and bred as the youth bled man
And man bled truth into this fevered stam-
Terribly uncouth, still a beauty, I defend
In the mirror, FORSOOTH!
the Mad Ol’ Man


10 thoughts on “Mad Ol’ Man

  1. Pingback: The Covering Ground: Neil Young’s “Helpless” by kd lang | Johnbalaya

  2. The Neil Young element has, obviously, already been mentioned … but, your poem did make me think of this song too. Young (and Bob Dylan) are two of the best songwriters around. I’ll add Leonard Cohen, just to make it a songwriting trinity.

    Having an older parent, the lyrics of Young’s song seem especially poignant to me, for the reason you state above: a reminder to be more compassionate and understanding of young people. I think as we age, we forget what it’s like to be young…

    Also, I am compelled to comment on the use of Forsooth … certainly a word that deserves a comeback. It’s fun to say.

    And, as an aside — I think Cohen, Young and Dylan are great songwriters in the fact that their songs are open to anyone who wants to sing them — their lyrics speak to so many. Of course, there are the purists who refuse to think that only Young should sing Young’s songs. But, music is such an open form — I think, in part, due to it’s “poetic” roots (music is, after all, poetry set to music – granted some of it is better poetry than others). But, just like reading a poem aloud, the way the writer interprets the words, and the way someone else might read it (which is why W. S. Merwin chose to eliminate punctuation from his poetry, to allow the reader to decide how to read it). I’m a fan of a good cover song, and this talk of Young has brought to mind my favorite Young song, and I think I’ll have to make a post as soon as I finish this comment. 🙂

    • There’s a talent for playing and writing that doesn’t always overlap. There’s also a talent for reinterpreting, like Aretha’s cover of “Respect” or Hendrix’s Dylan cover “All Along the Watchtower” or Joe Cocker’s “Little Help from My Friends,” that deserves its own mention.

      “Sugar Mountain” is one of my favorite Young songs, and that one touches me still. I listened to that song a lot when I started moving out on my own.

      Oh to live on Sugar Mountain
      With the barkers and the colored balloons
      You can’t be 20 on Sugar Mountain
      Though you’re thinking that you’re leaving there too soon

      Man I love Neil. Now we’re both listening to him!

  3. Saw Neil Young the other night on some talk show – don’t remember which but with him as back up was a young man that could have been Neil in his salad days. It was a real mind blow to see Neil had aged like us mortals, still sounded the same and yet, there was this young man with him – quite a contrast and a poignant add to this song. Good rhythm on this and you did rhymes – I am always impressed when writers do this.

    • I’ve been first and last / Look at how the time goes past / But I’m all alone at last / Rolling home to you

      This song has always haunted me. For some reason I try to remember what it felt like to listen to at 24 and as I get older. I really would like to know how/if it has changed for Neil. The perspective change from youth to… experience 😉 I assume must alter his view of it somehow.

      Also, Young’s one of my favorite musicians!

      • I’ve always liked him. I know I memorized the entirety of After the Goldrush. Birds came back to me years later when I watched a plane flying back to Hakone without me.

        • I remember seeing him in Dallas about 2002. He was amazing. His guitar tone brought me to me knees, and the chemistry between him and Crazy Horse was breathtaking. Amazing show. It’s going to be a Neil kinda day now. 😀

    • I’ve always loved this song. As a younger man, the earnestness really hit home. As I get older, it reminds me to be more compassionate and understanding of the younger folks. Honestly, one of my favorite songs. I love that this was brought to mind with my poem.

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