Feb 08

Alan Watts Blues


Alan Watts Blues

(listen here or in China follow this link**)


Well, I’m taking some time with my quiet friend
Well, I’m takin’ some time on my own
Well, I’m makin’ some plans for my getaway
There’ll be blue skies shining up above
When I’m cloud hidden, cloud hidden, whereabouts unknown

Well, I’ve got to get out of the rat race now
I’m tired of the ways of mice and men
And the empires all turning into rust again
Out of everything, nothing remains the same
That’s why I’m cloud hidden, cloud hidden, whereabouts unknown

Sittin’ up on the mountain top in my solitude
Where the morning fog comes rollin’ in
Just might do me some good

Well, I’m waiting in the clearing with my motor on
Well, it’s time to get back to the town again
Where the air is sweet and fresh in the countryside

Well, it won’t be long before I’ll be back here again.


The 20th Century philosopher, Alan Watts was known for his ability to interpret Eastern Philosophy for the Western audience. Shortly before his death, in 1973, Watts penned the short volume titled, Cloud hidden, Whereabouts unknown; A Mountain Journal.
Coming from the Celtic tradition, Van Morrison has long been an artist exploring “into the mystic” of human consciousness. It is clear that Watts’ philosophical prose were the inspiration for this song. Morrison lived in the San Francisco Bay area during some of the years that Watts lived and lectured there. It is not unlikely that their paths crossed at some point.
My interpretation of the lyrics
The quiet friend ~ could be the author is caring for someone like the character, Lennie Small, from the novel referred to in the second verse of the song. This could also refer to that inner voice (our conscience or inner friend) we all know. That voice we should perhaps take the time to listen to more often.
Plans for a getaway are the arrangements we must make to find those quiet moments to listen to the voice. Watts was an advocate of using meditation to help us cope with and seek the deeper meaning of our life experience.
Cloud hidden may refer to the figurative place(s) where we find solitude.
Whereabouts unknown ~ that place inside you that no one else can reach. The inner sanctuary.
Perhaps the reference is to the location of Watts’ home on Mount Tamalpais.
I’ve got to get out of the rat race now ~ That very common American idiom depicting the drudgery and tediousness of day to day life in the modern world.
Tired of the ways “Of Mice and Men” , a reference to the short but powerful Steinbeck novel and the tendency of the strong to take advantage of the weak. The machinations of selfish people.
Empires turning into rust again. Many philosophers have spoken of the cycle every civilization repeats, their rise and fall — the ascent to greatness and the descent into corruption and decay.
Nothing remains the same ~ Change is the one constant in the universe.
Where the air is sweet and fresh, could be a place in one’s dream-state, or, it could be a place of retreat.
It won’t be long before I’ll be back here again. The author’s recognition that returning to that higher place is healthful to restore sanity and balance to living.
more about Van here.
** Special thanks to my student and friend, June Zhu for assisting me with finding music links that work for my Chinese students. Thank you, June!






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