This was more like the endless road…eight days of editing to get this one done! Definitely the longest edit so far, but the difficulty in getting it done was two-fold: Real life matters and the conceptual execution of a pre-determined idea, something I don't usually do. If you're new to my work and words, I usually shoot a model with no idea of what the shots will become, and build things along the way. This was a rare occasion where I had an idea first, and set out to create it.

The inspiration for this image is an old song by Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, from his classic and most popular album, 1970's "Tea For The Tillerman." I came to know his songs later on, as he was a fixture in my parent's and aunt's and uncle's music collection. I wish I could convey more effectively what my childhood impressions of the man were - his passionate vocals, introspective lyrics, the confidence and energy of his delivery.

While no one but the man himself knows truly why he gave up his music and career for almost 30 years, it is generally known that he gave it up for religious reasons, and this I have always regarded as a tragedy - no faith or belief should require you to abandon your art - it's too high a price.

But this image is not about that, or the man himself. It is about the lyric of the song, and one that anyone can relate to - it's about striking off on your own to find the truth, or yourself, or the meaning in life. I will reprint the lyrics below, and there are a few references in the image that pertain to the lyric, but it was the spirit of the song, the childhood memories I have of the artist, that I wanted to capture in the image.

There is a slight whimsy, but also a lot of symbolism, using some of my tried and true icons (keys, clocks, books, birds, strings). The man in the image is striking off on his journey, his road to find out, to find his answers, but he holds lines to find his way back home. Everywhere around him, potential answers: a tree of keys, the books on the ground, and the persistent pressure of time, the clock "ticks the time out." A new moon is behind him, a symbol of youth as he walks away from it into adulthood. On his head, literally on his mind, he holds his memories, a projector beaming his life lessons ahead of him, possibly to light the way.

I hope you like the image and the song, or at least the lyric. It's one of those special ones for me, a childhood favorite that stayed with me all these years, and I think the message of the song, that the answers lie within, not without, is especially relevant to me now as my future is a little dark and uncertain at the moment!

Model: Gilberto Mendez

Lyrics:

Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out

Well in the end I'll know, but on the way I wonder
Through descending snow, and through the frost and thunder

Well, I listen to the wind come howl, telling me I have to hurry
I listen to the robin's song saying not to worry

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to findout

Then I found myself alone, hopin' someone would miss me
Thinking about my home, and the last woman to kiss me, kiss me

But sometimes you have to moan when nothing seems to suit yer
But nevertheless you know you're locked towards the future

So on and on you go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to findout

Then I found my head one day when I wasn't even trying
And here I have to say, 'cause there is no use in lying, lying

Yes the answer lies within, so why not take a look now?
Kick out the devil's sin, pick up, pick up a good book now (Repeat x 2)

Yes the - answer - lies - within, so why not take a look now?
Kick out the devil's sin, pick up, pick up The Good Book now!

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