This was a case of one of dem-dar songs that gets into your head, and won't quit playing. I knew it was from the '60s, one of those moody, philosophical things we all loved to dissect ("what do the lyrics mean??"), sometimes over a joint or a forbidden glass of wine. I mainly remembered the lines, "From a distance, from a distance/ You can hear a crying angel sing,/She's crying for the sadness tomorrow's sins may bring."
I haven't had time to research this song, to figure out who wrote it. There is at least one other song called From a Distance, more recent and more famous than this one, which is why it took me awhile to find the original recording. I don't really know who P. F. Sloan was either, though he may have been one of dem-dar one-hit wonders.
The song is still quite pretty to my ear today, though a bit sappy, as I feared it would be. It attempts to sing of faith, which was pretty rare in those days, more rare today. I remember another moody, opaque song called Everyone's Gone to the Moon, much more dysphoric and even nihilistic. We discussed that one to death. This one is merely melancholy, and earnest.
Looking back, everything ended almost before it began, though we thought the ethos of the '60s would go on forever and change the world. It didn't. In fact it eventually became a laughingstock. Everything reverted to crassness. The bellbottoms were put away, to be replaced by the Mint Green Polyester Leisure Suit of our worst nightmares.
Kids wear '60s tshirts now: peace, love, and all that stuff that got left behind. Now it's just sort of an affectionate (maybe) sendup, or a way to recycle old logos. I see it all from a distance. I know, that's cringe-inducing, but it's really how it is. This song got recorded in my brain so long ago and was buried so deep I didn't even know it was there. Then, some random set of circumstances, or something someone said, or even just a turn of the sky, pushed "play".