The Doors. “People Are Strange”.Hearing this on my car’s Air Play, I think back to my youthful songs of choice, and except for the Motown sounds I sang with my buddies in the 171ststreet subway station for the acoustics and harmonies.

Why was it the songs I identify with are songs like those?

I always sang the Melvin Franklin Bass lines, or as a fake Bowser of Sha-Na-Na in a local group. I was never the lead; always a backup singer.

It’s funny how music can represent a life.

People are strange
When you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly
When you’re alone.

When you’re strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you’re strange
No one remembers your name
When you’re strange.

I was always the outsider, uneasy with new people. I recall singing that to myself at parties or hanging out at Poe Park. Most at ease on the playing field with my teammates and even my opponents, and when an adult among his colleagues at work, I was shy among girls, then as I grew older, women.

Then, as now, I wondered why I felt alone in a room, no matter how many people were there. Growing up poor, as an only child, I knew what being alone meant as I spent countless hours inventing things to do by myself with whatever I had; playing real baseball with baseball cards, diving on the couch to score touchdowns until I heard one too many cracks in the old wood, or as I grew older…playing with myself as opposed to by myself.

He laughed to himself…. “I should make a playlist of those songs. The Animals: We’ve Got to Get Out Of This Place.”

We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place

I always felt I had to get out of this place. Where was this place? It was where ever I was.

Another Animal’s song pops into his head…”Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”.

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…

Sitting alone in his home filled with people at his 65thbirthday party, Paul thought of many other songs. “God Bless The Child’. “Nowhere Man”. “The Stranger”.

“STOP!” I yell at himself. “Shake it off man. You’ve had a pretty good run. Why get so down on yourself?”

Why indeed?

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