Songwriter Stories

Bill Abernathy

Bill Abernathy - You Can't Go Back

I’ve been setting around thinking about the good old days
All the good times we had, the games that we played
We didn’t know what we had then
And our ignorance makes me laugh
I’m so glad that we can never go back
 
Listen to You Can't Go Back

On a beautiful day in Midwest suburbia I had decided to wash my car in the driveway. As I was working on the car, listening to music from a boom box, (yes, I am that old) a car pulled into the driveway. A long white car with a black vinyl roof. Looking through the windshield I see an old friend named Randy that I had not seen for a long long-time. He was of course giving me the international “your number 1” hand sign with both hands. I started laughing and so it began.

You see we had a long history. We had met in high school and had many music classes and activities we were both involved in. Randy played guitar and it was natural for us to play a few tunes together at school events.  Our music was pretty popular with our classmates and soon evolved to playing and doing concerts across the Midwest. We had written a few tunes together, but before we could really do anything with them, life brought changes for each of us and we went our separate ways. Over time we completely lost touch.

After a few pleasantries in the driveway, we ended up drinking a beer and catching up about our lives, our music, and how we missed the “good old days”. Setting around the kitchen table, the guitars came out, paper and pen soon followed, as did a steady flow of cold boys and old stories.

We started out talking about some of the shows we played. As with any musician, some shows, are more memorable than others, but there was one we both remembered in great detail. This one in particular had many young ladies in attendance that were being a bit silly and really got into our music. They were waving their hands, winking at us, and making it clear that they were interested in post-concert events. It turned out to be a really fun evening.

Interestingly enough, one of these young ladies stayed in contact for a while, so got to know her a bit more than just the proverbial one-night stand. Nothing permanent came of it, but some good times were had, and some good memories were made. Many years later I connected with the same lady at an invitation only event. We were in similar relationship situations and it seemed like an interesting idea to have a drink or two. In a short conversation I learned her life had not played out as well as she had hoped. There were many stories about how life had brought some deep drama to her. It also became clear she had made some plans for her and me to rekindle what once was. The way she looked, the way she was dressed, made it clear she was trying hard, too hard, to make a good impression. We had a short conversation and within 10 min I learned that trying to go back into the past and relive those memories was a really bad idea.

 We used to play those songs make all the young girls cry
But none of those silly girls ever understood why
Later in life you meet and their dressed to impress
As a hot mess in a tight red sequined dress
 
After that short meeting, it became abundantly obvious to me that our good memories are just that. Good memories. Trying to relive those memories, or rekindle past relationships is just not a good idea. My good memories of those times are now forever tainted in my mind, based on this ill-advised attempt to relive and regain what once was.

Sometimes we think we might go back just a year or two
Try the be the way we were, do things like we used to do
Time and tide wait for no man, that’s a simple fact
Ya gotta face the music, you can’t go back
 
I learned a great lesson that weekend drinking beer and playing music with Randy. What we once could do, we still could do, but just because you can, does not mean you should. The recovery time was very long and painful. LOL That said, telling all the stories, writing some new music, laughing, and reminiscing is great fun for sure. Be comfortable with your past, learn from it, but always remember, You Can’t Go Back.
 

I still play these songs and write a tune or two
That’s a part of me I’d like to hold on to
The memories are nice for a little flashback
But they live in the past, you can never go back”

You can’t go back, you can’t go back
You can’t relive your past, you can never go back
You can’t go back; your memories are all you have
You can’t turn back the clock you can never go back
 
Can’t Go Back – Bill Abernathy on Spotify
 
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