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9.18-WHO KNOWS WHAT TOMORROW MAY BRING (Traffic)

Traffic

LISTEN

We are not like all the rest--
You can see us any day of the week.
Come around, sit down, take a sniff, fall asleep--
Baby, you don't have to speak.
I'd like to show you where it is
But then it wouldn't even mean a thing.
Nothing is easy; baby, just please me.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

        If for just one moment
        You could step outside your mind
        And float across the ceiling
        I don't think the folks would mind.

[Repeat A section]

[Repeat B section]

[Break]

Who know what tomorrow will bring? (11x into Fade)


TrafficOutside Bob Dylan’s initial shift from Blonde on Blonde to John Wesley Harding, the eponymous Traffic album was one of the earliest to shift from a predominantly psychedelic format (Traffic’s first album, Mr. Fantasy) to a broader pop music perspective in which the psychedelic aesthetic was a contributing element but not the structural principle. [Other examples are the unpopular Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd and the best-selling Waiting for the Sun by the Doors. However, this was the first of these aforementioned albums that maintained good examples of psychedelia beyond one or two cuts.] With their second album, Traffic seemed to follow the lead of Child is Father to the Man by Blood Sweat and Tears, in bringing to the fore jazz elements. The difference between the two approaches, however, is that BST was a large band, while Traffic kept a scaled-down, intimate, “group” appeal. The album did fairly well on both sides of the Atlantic, and for most Americans served as an introduction to Traffic, since their first album barely broke into the U.S. charts.

Reading comments people have made about the Traffic album on the internet, I was struck by the observation that much of the album speaks to enduring hardship, or giving the listener a compassionate companion while under duress. A look at the titles to some of the included cuts (Don’t Be Sad / Crying to be Heard / Feelin’ Alright? / No Time to Live / Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring) shows a certain consistency of mood. Many of these songs offer solace in hard times on a holistic level, rather than on a purely romantic one, addressing heartbreak about “reality” rather than about a relationship. After the “Summer of Revolution” and the political assassinations of American liberal figures in 1968, the Traffic album tries to keep a positive attitude in the midst of disillusionment.

Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring, with its cool jazz groove and Steve Winwood’s light touch on the Hammond organ, continues to encourage the hedonism of the psychedelic aesthetic, offering the alternative consciousness available through drugs--but not as a vehicle to enlightenment so much as a means of relaxation. Take a sniff implies cocaine, a drug which was beginning to be more popular than LSD in 1968—rather than offering cosmic or under water visions, one “floats across the ceiling”, above one’s problems and yet is confined by one’s circumstances. On LSD, one is eager to show you where it is, but by now, the poet realizes much of the alternate reality wouldn’t even mean a thing. Perhaps it is better to step outside your mind just for the fun of it. As an invitation to try cocaine as no big deal, the song bears comparison with the intense LSD salesmanship of Try It by the Hollies, released only a year earlier.

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