Boy, You’re Gonna Carry That Weight!

In an Asian city I was visiting for the first time, I was walking towards the town center with a backpack that had in it the Jack Kerouac novel Desolation Angels among a few other things. I had meant to find a nice, atmospheric cafe, order a cup of coffee, and continue reading that book, which I had already read around 30 pages of. And meandering around in this unfamiliar city, I walked into the market, and before I knew it, I had purchased three mangoes from an old lady who had cast a spell on me. The moment I walked away, with the three mangoes now in my backpack, the song entered my head, and continued playing for the next two hours: 

Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight . . . a long time.

Which made me laugh. Because it was hugely appropriate, and there was no reason at all, in that non-English-speaking country, for me to remember that song at that time: except that it meant that I was going to carry the additional weight of those three mangoes in my back pack for the rest of the evening until I returned to my hotel.

This, and the bittersweet and awesome medley that it is part of (from Abbey Road), is one of ten songs that have had the most influence on me in the last twelve years, a few of the others being Ray Charles’s “I Have a Woman” and “Drown in My Own Tears,” the Rolling Stones’ “Angie,” B.B. King's "Help the Poor" (!), George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and Bob Dylan’s “Worried Man.” These are not my “Best Ten Songs” or even necessarily all part of my “Best 25 Songs,” though they may all be part of my personal “Best 100 Songs of All Time.” However, they have a specific emotional or other appeal for me—an appeal that is related to my personal circumstances.

Yes, I’m carrying around a lot of weight, and mangoes are the least part of it.


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