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Boomer's Story

Today is my first day back in the world of the living after suffering through some kind of viral infection since last Thursday. High fever, nasty constant body aches, no sleep, and basically feeling utterly horrible for a few days in a row. Feeling better now after getting some good medicine from the hospital. But wow, I have to say, it is downright horrible to have a high fever and chills in this horrid summer weather.

Being sick means being vulnerable and that's when all those awesome daily psychological guards come down and I fall farther into my baseline existential sinkhole. It gives you time to think about life.

In my recent trip to Tokyo, while I was slowly perusing one of Japan's more well-known board game chain stores called Yellow Submarine, they started playing Ry Cooder's "Boomer's Song" over the speakers. I'd never heard the song before, but through the magic that is the all-too-convenient smartphone-internet era, I had the song downloaded into my collection before the song being played in the store was over.

I listened to the song on repeat all day while I was wandering Tokyo. Although it was the perfect soundtrack to my walkabout in the very streets that inspired the cyberpunk metro-spaces of the anime which brought me to Japan in the first place, I began to feel some apprehension at how much I could really relate to the words.

Boomer's Story is that of the wandering Everyman--the person who can't settle down in one place. This wanderlust is often at odds with regular notions of stability. There's even a line in the song that goes:

"And I never tried to save no money / and now I got no place to go..."

If that's not a direct admission of capricious wandering, then I don't know what is. And despite the impracticality of it, I recognized myself in the protagonist/villain of Boomer. It was like a good Greek Tragedy dripping sweetly out of my earphones, like a poison in my ears that I wanted.

I think it's a strange thing to recognize something in you that you simultaneously love and hate. Even more strange to know in your heart that that thing may not be something you want to change about yourself.

"Listen to a Boomer's story

Pay attention to what I say

Well, I hear another train a-comin'

Guess I'll be on my way

If you wanna do me a favor

When I lay me down and die

Just dig my grave beside the railroad

So I can hear the trains go by..."

An interesting thing I found out about this story was that it's an old traditional folk song that's been around forever, apparently. I suppose humans have always wanted to roam, otherwise I guess it would have been all too easy to simply have our species remain on the African continent as opposed to spreading all over the Earth.

The song also reminds me of the Eagles' "Desperado," also another song about a loner. The funny thing is, both of these songs enjoy a considerable amount of popularity, which leads me to believe that there must be a lot of loners out there, wandering around and enjoying their loneliness.

About the Author

PhD Candidate in Japan, researching Narrative in Games. Responds favorably to Thrash Metal, Karaoke, and Dungeons & Dragons.

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