May’s Song Review: “Climbing Mountains” by Meg Hutchinson

May’s Synopsis: I’m a sucker for simple, repetitive melodies with interesting turns, strong imagery, and human potential. Climbing mountains? I have that dream all the time.

May’s Rating Scale:

MAY!

May?

meh…

meh?

MESS.

 

I’ve been listening to Meg for a few months now, and I really like the way she chooses her words. She has become one of my favorite singer-songwriters. She usually doesn’t rhyme to keep her songs interesting. I’m no songwriter, but this seems difficult, because when you rhyme, at least you tend to maintain the same meter for every line.

Dreamt last night I was climbing mountains
Way beyond the earth’s strange pull
Dreamt last night I was climbing mountains
Way beyond love’s fierce hold

The beginning of the song starts with a single strum right before she sings. This reminds me of dreams I have that carry the urgency to be shared, especially the dreams I remember vividly. Here, the immediacy of the lyric’s entrance matches that of the feat she’s dreamt about. She introduces repetition of the main idea of climbing mountains, like it’s something new to her, a realization of something she could actually do. She dreamt it. Last night. A new dream. Fighting gravity, fighting love.

Dreamt last night I was climbing mountains
Way beyond the sad remains
Of this wild wild world that was never ours
That somehow we had the need to claim
Nothing but the wind and sky
And this impulse to survive

This stanza has a different structure than the first. This exposits the character of the song a bit and leads into the chorus. This stanza relates the task of climbing mountains to surviving in this world. The will one needs to have to climb mountains has to be stronger than the forces grounding her, holding her down. I get the impression of certain aspects of life being purely stifling, and whatever mountains she actually steps onto she can conquer. She can’t take credit for the world, but she would like to lay hold upon the air that moves and the sky that gives perspective: elements the mountains seem to belong to. Meg employs half-rhyme here – remains/claim, sky/survive – which implies a not-quite-there-ness in the process.

But when dark falls behind windows
See these tired eyes bathed in blue light
Watch the world turn watch the heart find
Comfort alone won’t keep us alive

It feels like she’s setting up the dream, here. It’s nighttime, twilight. The melody takes an appropriate chorus-like turn, because she’s not telling us about the dream: she’s keeping us conscious. It’s a great contrast.

Dreamt last night of your Irish eyes
Of your teeth shining in the dark when you smile
Of your solitude and your even keel
Of your steady gate
[sic] and the loss that you feel
Nothing but the love remains
The rest it seems to always fade

This stanza picks back up the beginning melody, but the rhythm of the first four lines is different. The song gains momentum. The dream of climbing mountains includes or relates to or pertains to relationships. She dreams about loss someone else feels. She empathizes in her dream. Also, I’m not quite sure what Irish eyes are, but I see them quite clearly in my imagination, as well as the smiling teeth in the dark. That’s quite a palpable image. She further develops the other character in the notion of “us” in the song. Compare the sad remains in the second stanza to the love that stands alone here. What aspects of love motivate us or hold us back? What’s temporary in this world?

But when dark falls behind windows
See these tired eyes bathed in blue light
Watch the world turn watch the heart find
Comfort alone won’t keep us
Keep us

Only one stanza this time between choruses. Starting to wind down, or wake up. Doesn’t anyone else get the impression the song itself is a scaled-down version of climbing a mountain? Does climbing mountains have to be a dream?

Imagine a whole country asleep at the wheel
Inventing so many new ways to avoid what we feel

Ah, a rhyming couplet. We’ve made it. The summit. The click. The message.

But when dark falls…
Dark falls, windows, tired eyes, blue light
Dreamt last night I was climbing mountains

This fade to the end features images in the song from the highest consciousness, before any dreaming happens. Meg uses metaphors well. She employs powerful images that fuse seamlessly with catchy melodies. I could continue to explore the layers this song has, and I’m sure I’d love the song even more with every discovery. I can’t say enough about the way it’s written or how it sounds or what it means to me. She has raised my awareness and love for life by sharing a powerful REM-sleep epiphany. I want to put on my hiking boots. She has done her job.