I mark the sad possing of the great Joe Cocker with a link to my favorite of all his recordings, Jimmy Webb’s classic song “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”.
Some of you will also recognize this as the title of a great novel by Robert Heinlein. The Heinlein story and the Webb song are, on their face, very different. What they share is a sense of the difference between the ideal reality we wish for, and the harsh reality that is.
This mournful longing for something better that seems to elude our grasp, is a theme that runs through so many songs. You can hear it in Judy Garland’s rendition of the Arlen/Harberg song “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, in Tom Waits’ “Time”, in so many of the songs of Leonard Cohen.
They all seek the answer to the same question — a question we all ask ourselves from time to time: How can we be so unhappy, when we have such beautiful dreams?
But nobody ever did it better than Joe Cocker, singing this immortal Jimmy Webb tune.