This Song and the Heart on My Sleeve

This song is from Patty Griffin’s first album, Living with Ghosts. It has been on my mind a lot, especially as I contemplate my life. If I were an island, the song would not make any sense. The principle would be ridiculous.

Maybe just a mini-review of this song.

It’s Patty and her guitar and her feelings. Rawness and purity and vulnerability. Universality and dissipation in bygones. It hurts, it heals: I like it.

May’s rating scale:

MAY!

May.

meh…

meh?

MESS.

We are swimming with the snakes at the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what’s more we never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free

I heard them ringing the bells in heaven and hell
They got a secret they’re getting ready to tell
It’s falling from the skies, it’s calling from the graves
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved

Let’s take a walk on the bridge, right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby, we’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air and we were blessed
It’s hard to give, it’s hard to get
But everybody needs a little forgiveness

We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line
As usual we’re having ourselves one hell of a time
And the planes keep flying right over our heads no matter how loud we shout
“Hey, hey, hey!”
And we keep waving and waving our arms in the air but we’re all tired out

I heard somebody say today’s the day
A big old hurricane, she’s blowing our way
Knocking over the buildings, killing all the lights
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night

Let’s take a walk on the bridge, right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby, we’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air and we were blessed
It’s hard to give, it’s hard to get
It’s hard to live, baby, but still I think it’s the best bet, hey, yeah
Hard to give, and I’m never going to forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

Thanks a lot, LANGUAGE

So, I was reading Macbeth and came across this line from Lady Macbeth:

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature.
It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
(1.5.13-16)

And, since I’ve been listening to a lot of the Indigo Girls lately, the following song came to mind.

Also, the play freaks me out. A LOT. The song does not. That one phrase–“milk of human kindness”–is probably the only intersecting point between them.

I guess that I’m just looking for any excuse to post another Indigo Girls song. And talk about Shakespeare.

Do I really need an excuse?

Anyway, here’s the song.

Songwriting. Countermelodies. Harmonies. I love it all.

Love Will Come To You

The website has the lyrics in the format below.

guess i wasn’t the best one to ask me myself with my face pressed up against love’s glass to see the shiny toy i’ve been hoping for the one i never can afford the wide world spins and spits turmoil and the nations toil for peace but the paws of fear upon your chest only love can soothe that beast and my words are paper tigers no match for the predator of pain inside her i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if I’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two i was born under the sign of cancer like brushing cloth i smooth the wrinkles for an answer i close my eyes and wish you fine (i’m always closing my eyes wishing i’m fine) even though i know you’re not this time (even though i’m not this time) i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if i’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two dodging your memories a field of knives always on the outside looking in on other’s lives i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if i’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two and i wish her insight to battle love’s blindness strength from the milk of human kindness a safe place for all the pieces that scattered learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters

On Moving Again

Except I don’t know what to say.

I’m basically moving around the corner, but I’ve lived at this apartment for a proper year and a half, and in the college world, that’s a very long time.

But, it’s also a very long time.

Two semesters left, and sometimes I panic. Sometimes I’m giddy.

I’ll miss my bedroom window view of the mountains. I hope whoever lives in this room after me enjoys it just as much.

I return yet again to Patty Griffin. “Useless Desires” makes me think and feel a million different things at once. And this happens whenever I move. Even with this move, when I had an entire year and a half to form close friendships with people in my apartment complex, but it seems I went out of my way to make friends with people who don’t live here. There are nice people. Lots. It’s been hard to find people to relate to, to click with. Things are just different, which is okay, and I’d rather be continuing to transition somewhere else for the next ten months. Because it’s time.

Just around the corner, but it’s still a move, and my soul’s a-swirl.

Useless Desires (ctrl+click)

Say goodbye to the old street
That never cared much for you anyway
And the different coloured doorways
You thought would let you in one day
Goodbye to the old bus stop
Frozen and waiting
The Weekend Edition
Has this town way overrated

You walk across the baseball green
The grass has turned to straw
A flock of birds tries to fly
Away from where you are
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, old friend
I can’t make you stay
I can’t spend another ten years
Wishing you would anyway

How the sky turns to fire
Against a telephone wire
And even I’m getting tired
Of useless desires

Every day I take a bitter pill
It gets me on my way
For the little aches and pains
The ones I have from day to day
To help me think a little less
About the things I miss
To help me not to wonder how
I ended up like this

I walk down to the railroad track
And ride a rusty train
With a million other faces
I shoot through the city veins
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, old friend
You wanted to be free
Somewhere beyond the bitter end
Is where I want to be

How the sky turns to fire
Against a telephone wire
And even I’m getting tired
Of useless desires

Say goodbye to the old building
That never tried to know your name
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, old friend
You won’t be seeing me again
Goodbye to all the windowpanes
Shining in the sun
Like diamonds on a winter day
Goodbye, goodbye to everyone

How the sky turns to fire
Against a telephone wire
It burns the last of the day down
And I’m the last one hanging around
Waiting on a train track
And the train never comes back
And even I’m getting tired
Of useless desires

Here Goes Today

I spent the day reading King Lear and listening to the Indigo Girls. Most of it at the same time. By the time I finished the Shakespeare, I thought I was going to die of a catharsis overdose.

Some versions have Edgar performing the last lines; others use Albany. There is significance in either character, but I like it better when Edgar speaks last; I feel a stronger sense of justice. I mean, there has to be something after nearly everyone dies. (NOT A SPOILER; IT’S A SHAKESPEARE TRAGEDY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.) Here are the lines:

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most. We that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

And, the Indigo Girls. I’ve been listening to their self-titled album from 1989, and I can’t get enough of their songwriting. All the time. While I like all songs from this album, “Love’s Recovery” stands out today. In my mind, King Lear and this song connect, but I can’t quite explain how, other than I decided to experience them together today. Plus, I just spent three hours at Borders looking at books, and it didn’t even feel like I was there for that long. It was great.

Indigo Girls – Love’s Recovery (ctrl + click to open in another window)

During the time of which I speak it was hard to turn the other cheek
To the blows of insecurity
Feeding the cancer of my intellect the blood of love soon neglected
Lay dying in the strength of its impurity
Meanwhile our friends we thought were so together
They’ve all gone and left each other in search of fairer weather
And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast
To the slim chance of love’s recovery.
There I am in younger days, star gazing,
Painting picture perfect maps of how my life and love would be
Not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection
My compass, faith in love’s perfection
I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen
Meanwhile our friends we thought were so together
Left each other one by one in search of fairer weather
And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast
To the slim chance of love’s recovery.
Rain soaked and voice choked like silent screaming in a dream
I search for our absolute distinction
Not content to bow and bent
To the whims of culture that swoop like vultures
Eating us away, eating us away
Eating us away to our extinction
Oh how I wish I were a trinity, so if I lost a part of me
I’d still have two of the same to live
But nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal, as specks of dust we’re universal
To let this love survive would be the greatest gift we could give
Tell all the friends who think they’re so together
That these are ghosts and mirages, these thoughts of fairer weather
Though it’s storming out I feel safe within the arms of love’s discovery

J’irai La Voir Un Jour

The first time I heard this song was in April 2007. At a Patty Griffin concert. My very first one. It was at the Beacon Theatre, and I had never been to that venue before. It’s one of those moderate-sized halls that happens to feel intimate at the same time.

This song combines Patty Griffin and French, two of my most favorite things in the world (though French is starting to slip in the rankings these days).

Patty introduced this song as one her grandmother sang to her when she was a child. Simple tune, simple lyrics, but beautiful and touching. It was just her and the piano for this number. Her voice, her memories. Her music causing my tears.

It makes me think about love and family and eternity. It makes me think of my own grandmothers, whom I didn’t really know. But I interacted more with my mom’s mother, and I never knew my grandmother on my dad’s side.

My mom’s father was a very gentle man from what I can remember, and my dad’s father was stern.

I wish I knew them all better. But I will.

I will see them one day.

J’irai la voir un jour
Au ciel dans la patrie
Oui j’irai voir Marie
Ma joie et mon amour

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel
J’irai la voir un jour

J’irai la voir un jour
J’irai mourir aux anges
Pour chanter ses louanges
Et pour former sa cour

J’irai la voir un jour
Cette vierge si belle
Bientôt j’irai près d’elle
Lui dire mon amour

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel
J’irai la voir un jour

J’irai la voir un jour
J’irai près de sa tombe
Recevoir la colombe
Dans l’éternel séjour

J’irai la voir un jour
J’irai loin de la terre
Sur le coeur de ma mère
Me poser sans retour

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel
J’irai la voir un jour

J’irai la voir un jour.

“You’re all washed up when Poseidon has his day”

This is some relatively new Indigo Girls. How do people do it? How do they come up with fresh and powerful stuff after decades of writing? Or is that what it takes, years and years of writing and hoping, just hoping, something worthy or gratifying pops up here and there? I already know the answer. It never hurts to keep asking the question. Always keep asking the question.

They sound quite good here. I love their harmonies. I dig when they do their countermelodic, polyphonic magic. And the writing. Goodness gracious, people. I’m letting out a mind-boggled, awestruck, cathartic sigh right now. Wow.

I get to see them in a couple of weeks. Is anyone going to go for the extra ticket? I mean, they’re coming back to Central Park Summerstage in June, but does anyone else want to be there when I see them for the very first time?

The way Amy Ray moves with her guitar in this video reminds me a little of the way my little brother swayed with his electric bass back when he had a band. This probably means my brother is a lesbian.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Indigo Girls – FLEET OF HOPE“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

I Haven’t Really Posted about Patty Griffin in a While. Oh. Wait.

Since Bill Lakin found me and took the time to comment, the least I could do was check out his site. I scanned all the links and headlines, and it pretty much made me want to be a roadie or a groupie for a living. What fun it would be to follow some of those bands around! So anyway, I came across a link, which read Patty Griffin, and of course I clicked on it, and in mere seconds it brought me to this article.

Patty Griffin? Singing in a church? For a new album? To be released this year? Very exciting.

I get to see her in 24 days. I promise not to be a security risk. I promise not to clamber on stage and try to get Patty to let me sing with her. That would be bad. My singing voice should be nowhere near a microphone or any sort of amplifying device. But Patty’s, yes. In a church, yes. At the pulpit and, belting out that phenomenal Patty voice under those vaulted ceilings and with what I can only imagine to be incredible acoustics, a million times yes.

May’s Song Review: “Home” by Meg Hutchinson

May’s synopsis: It’s winter. It’s time to feature a song about depression.

May’s rating scale:

MAY!

May?

meh…

meh?

MESS.

 

It’s a grey day. A steady rain showers the city, and traffic skis through the puddles. The air is heavy, thick. The sun doesn’t rise as early, and it sets sooner. It seems colors are muted, lights are dimmed; all that remains are the smoldering wicks of just barely snuffed candles. It’s very easy to feel depressed.

The grey, the darkness and gloom and suffocation are all one experiences when she is depressed. Meg Hutchinson masterfully presents and demonstrates the difference between depression and living a full, productive, present life. Depression is a place, but it isn’t only an institution where you’re committed. She won’t tell us where she’s been, because to retell is to relive, and she would rather talk about how it’s so good to be home. Depression isn’t home, and home isn’t only those four familiar walls with a roof on top.

She definitely knows who she was under ever cloudy skies and who she is now, and who she has to thank for helping her through the dark times. She’s become healthy again; enough time and experience (and perhaps medication) has healed her, and she’s using her experience to reach out to those who might relate, to create awareness, to let others know they’re not alone. Depression affects everyone. Did you go there too? Was it dark for you? Were you thinking self-destructively? Were you a patient or a loved one? Did you wait there too? Did you find a cure, too? The world might pale and darken, she knows, as you may know. But, it gets better.

I love this song, because it’s about getting better. It’s a song about overcoming this particular hardship. The tune is catchy, especially the chorus, and it rings repeatedly throughout the song, like a mantra. “I’ve been getting better these days. I’ve been sleeping in my own bed again”: Life is new, life is hers and is no longer as much of a struggle with a clouded perspective and heavy heart. “I’ve been dreaming in full color”: Can you imagine, colors popping in your dreams, the world coming alive around you? “Goodbye sorrow, I’ve found another way to stay”: Another way to deal with sadness. Another way to stay home. It’s so good.

Here’s the song. Hover over the link, then press “play” in the pop-up, or just let it download. Lyrics below.

Home

I won’t tell you where I’ve been
Only that it’s so good to be home
It’s possible to go so far down
As some of you might already know
Did you go there too?

I won’t tell you what I’ve seen
Only that this world can be so mean
Brave souls shuffling up and down the halls
No one visits no one even calls
Did you wait there too?

But I’ve been getting better these days
And I’ve been sleeping in my own bed again
And I’ve been dreaming in full color
Goodbye sorrow I’ve found another

I won’t tell you what I would’ve done
If not for my dearest ones
Chemistry can sorta leave you in the lurch
I’m just glad they found a cure
Did you find one too?

But if the world should really pale
Dark night of the soul is real
Let me offer I’ve been there
And one day that darkness clears

May’s Song Review: “Manhattan Moon” by Lucy Kaplansky

May’s synopsis: If you’re not open to folk music, please move along. This a good, solid song. The imagery is strong. And it’s not very long.

May’s rating scale:

MAY!

May?

meh…

meh?

MESS.

 

Last Thursday I went to Joe’s Pub for a concert. Three folk singers performed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their independent record label, Red House Records. They took turns singing from their respective repertoires, and more often than not the others joined in with a guitar lick or harmony. Joe’s Pub is a great venue. It’s really intimate, and these particular performers were extremely personable. They have known each other at least twenty years and their cameraderie really added to the show.

Here are photos of the show.

The first performer, Eliza Gilkyson, had a song with a whistling lick, and at the end she threw whistles at the audience for us to repeat. Our first time she told us we sucked (we laughed), so she whistled at us again, and we were much better, and by the last whistle, everyone was all together and in tune. That was fun.

The second performer was Cliff Eberhardt. He was more bluesy and could really jam on his guitar. The soundroom had the most technical difficulty with his pickups and monitors, but he didn’t appear awkward or frustrated about the equipment. He still sang and played and sounded amazing. A few of his songs you could really clap your hands to.

The third performer was Lucy Kaplansky. I’ve really taken to her music. Her live voice is completely mesmerizing (the studio doesn’t do it justice), and I appreciate how her songs are singalong. Her songwriting is impressive, and she has great autoharmony (and it probably helped that she knew her friends’ songs). She adopted a daughter from China about five years ago, Molly. She’s now five years old. Lucy wrote “Manhattan Moon” for her.

Listen to -Manhattan Moon-

You say you want to see the moon
Outside of our living room
Over the Manhattan sky
Like we saw last night

You don’t understand where she’s gone
When the morning comes
And I promise you she’ll be back tonight
We’ll find her and we’ll say goodnight

So you look for her in the books we read
In a shadow’s curve you show her to me
Then the sun goes down and she’s there again
Brighter now, your brand new friend

And for me the skyline’s changed
Same old buildings rearranged
The sky’s a richer shade of blue
And the moon’s my new friend too

Chorus:
I used to travel in a straight line
Now I’m walking on a road that winds
You take my hand we take our time
Oh, we take our time

The moon shines on half of the sky
And on the half you left behind
When it’s nighttime here it’s morning there
But the moon’s the same everywhere

While I’m singing you a lullaby
Someone’s waking up on the other side
The moon’s shining on her too
She’ll see it and she’ll think of you

You hear music in everything
The rain’s a drum, the traffic sings
I listen too and I dance along
We keep on dancing when the music’s gone

Chorus

Nothing frilly. The song follows a basic structure and progression. At the concert, I definitely caught on to the chorus and sang along. I like this song, just because the profoundness is in being able to feel how her having a child changed her view of the world. And I get a true sense of how much she loves her daughter. Reminds me of a couple of moms I know.

My Backup

That photo is linked to the site I got it from. (Austin City Limits) Trying to remember to give due credit and not break all the fun copyright laws.

I listen to other stuff, too. I always fall back on this girl. I have planned write-ups on why I think “Heavenly Day” is the perfectly structured song; the instrumentality of “Nobody’s Crying”; the pure rawness of “Every Little Bit” and “Sweet Lorraine.” I’ve mentioned before that my degree of fanhood has never elevated to obsession, but in this case, I have to make an exception. I told a friend whenever I’ve recommended Patty to someone else, and he/she isn’t as enthusiastic about her, I get a little offended; a little bit of myself holds a grudge, and a little bit of that someone else is dead to me. Of course I open my mind and appreciate other artists and different types of music. Some people are completely closed off to country, but there really is some good country out there. Some people detest rap, and granted, while that takes a while longer to sort through, you can find some decent stuff there, too. Patty herself interviewed that some of her songs have even fallen by the wayside, but since I’m a fan, if Patty were a genre all unto herself, I’d have my favorites, for sure, but I have definitely picked something from each of my non-favorites that I really like. Sure, some songs aren’t as brilliant, but I would submit that they’re all good. Probably everyone’s least favorite album of her is Flaming Red. “Mary” is on that album – it’s genius. Here’s another song, “Goodbye” I especially connect with:

Occurred to me the other day / You’ve been gone now a couple years / Well I guess it takes a while / For someone to really disappear / I remember where I was / when the word came about you / it was a day much like today / the sky was bright and wide and blue / 

(chorus) And I wonder where you are / and if the pain ends when you die / And I wonder if there was / some better way to say goodbye

Today my heart is big and sore / it’s trying to push right through my skin / I won’t see you anymore / I guess it’s finally sinking in / ‘Cause you can’t make somebody see / with the simple words you say / all their beauty from within / sometimes they just look away 

Chorus

When I hear this song, I think of all the people who I’m no longer in touch with. People I miss. People who were close to me. Patty doesn’t personally know May Anderton, but she knows that May Anderton is not the only one who’s experienced this kind of loss. And Patty put together a simple, powerful lyric and a simple, powerful melody and all of sudden May has found a friend in Patty Griffin, or at least in her music.

Okay, enough of that. I’ve listened to Meg Hutchinson about 10 times. But I mentioned she reminds me of a few other artists. So, it’s time to break out Damien Rice’s O, Dar Williams’s Mortal City, and Gillian Welch’s Soul Journey. I might dig up Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker or Love Is Hell, but then that reminds me of Jeff Buckley, then Rufus Wainwright. Then for some reason, I think of old Feist or Sarah Slean and I think of Sarah Slean at the piano, and that reminds me of Tori Amos and that takes me back to Sarah McLachlan. And don’t even get me started on classical music. Oh, man. Looks like it might get a little overwhelming, but if it does, what’s really so wrong with having too much good music to listen to?