You can close your eyes, and I still love you

by | May 26, 2020

My cousin in Boston recently sent me an email which contained the following words:

            “…sung from his home in Montana, with his wife and son. It brought tears to my eyes! Not just the lovely music, harmony and lyrics, but the three connected with each other at certain points, reflecting their connection to the message in the song.”

            My cousin’s email also contained the following link:

            https://youtu.be/TNjHk9Y36u0?list=RDTNjHk9Y36u0

            So I clicked it, and there was James Taylor with his wife and son before a fireplace. All three of them were singing Taylor’s incredible song “You Can Close Your Eyes.” My cousin was right. The warmth and clear bonds of love expressed in the song, and between the three of them, also brought tears to my eyes. It also brought back many memories.

            Written by Taylor and released on his 1971 album (Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon), it was also the B-side to Taylor’s mega-hit ‘single’ “You’ve Got a Friend.” It has been called “a secular hymn” by noted critics. Taylor has said that it was written to his then girlfriend Joni Mitchell while they were in New Mexico filming the movie “Two-Lane Blacktop.”

            After I saw this version of Taylor singing the song, I searched for clips of Taylor performing it back in the early 1970s. I was so struck by the differences. Tempus fugit—and in a blink of an eye!

            The music is haunting, but so are the lyrics:

“So this old world must still be spinning round, and I still love you.

So close your eyes, you can close your eyes, it’s alright.

I don’t know no love songs, and I can’t sing the blues anymore.

But I can sing this song, and you can sing this song, when I’m gone.”

            James said that he wrote this after a fight with Joni, and in fact their love affair was soon over after this. But of course the song is much deeper than just this, or it wouldn’t have struck such a responsive chord in so many people. Looking at James Taylor now—or anybody from the baby boomer generation–  it is clear that we are no longer “20 somethings.” The words “you can sing this song, when I’m gone” can take on a far deeper meaning.

            Also, during the pandemic this song can take on deeper meaning. It is important to hear and experience “I still love you.” This experience can come from many different sources, but I would stress the importance of hearing it, feeling it, and knowing it from that Divine Spark that is inside of us all.

            Lastly, there is one more “take away” from this that I’d like to share with you. My cousin is an atheist— a very strident atheist. I think it is important to remember that atheism comes in many different flavors just like Christianity comes in many different flavors. One flavor of atheism is the Richard Dawkins type of fundamentalist atheism. But there is also the Sam Harris type of atheism. Harris defends his atheism, but he doesn’t want to write off all of the accomplishments of a Jesus or a Buddha to epileptic seizures. Harris has been very interested in meditation and mindfulness, etc.

            We in Unity say that we honor all paths that lead to spiritual enlightenment. My atheist cousin is, ironically, one of the most spiritual people I know, and I am very open to learning from him things that can help advance my spiritual growth. “So close your eyes…and I still love you.”