Poets and musicians have a way with words.
The snow falling as I write this brings to mind my favourite Robert Frost poem, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (“He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow”) and Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night (“the morning light steals across my windowpane / where webs of snow are driftin’”).
My husband and I went recently saw another Canadian legend, the Cowboy Junkies. They’re billed as country/alternative rock but they really don’t fit any one category. The show repeated all the songs from perhaps their best known album, the Trinity Sessions, which was recorded live on one microphone at a church in downtown Toronto 20 years ago.
As lead singer Margo Timmins admitted, they don’t generally do happy songs; mournful is a pretty common description! They do have at least one upbeat song (sadly, they didn’t play it): the Anniversary Song. A line I particularly love is this:
Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful / as a face in a crowd of people / that lights up just for you?
What song lyrics speak to you?
Image: Skeeze on Pixabay.
During university years I contributed a “stereo system” to our group apartment, as well as some favourite albums. One of them was Greatest Hits: The Best of Leonard Cohen. Although me and the mates thought the whole album was great (appropriately angst-driven and fey in turns, which was perfect for one’s early ’20s), for some reason Like a Bird on a Wire
became my ultimate “I can’t go on right now” song. (Usually related to something as colossally important as multiple papers being due at the same time and me being unduly freaked out about expectations.)
So I’d put the album on the turntable and lift the needle to that track (remember those days!), then go and lie under the kitchen table (with a pillow), safe (or at least hiding) from deadlines and other stresses for a wee bit. My roommates knew it was either a time to be all hovering and soothing or else a time to stay away.
To this day, when I hear that song I’m transported to that temporary, safe haven from the responsibility demons, under the kitchen table.
(Cowboy Junkies deliver an awesome live show, n’est-ce pas?)
The Junkies DO put on an awesome show. Margo Timmins delivered in her usual style, described as “loose limbed as if she’d been drinking since noon.”
It’s amazing how sounds can transport you back to places, although you are the first to mention a place like underneath your kitchen table!
Definitely there is a transporting effect to certain music. For example, when I hear If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (from the Pretty in Pink film soundtrack), I am instantly transported back to listening to my portable cassette, lying in the shallows of the beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, with the sun shining and the gentle waves lapping. (Generally I donâ€™t listen to music lying down…at least not anymoreâ€¦but it does seem to induce a dreamlike state and memory for me.) Oh, and this was an excellent vacation and memory, not at all forlorn or angsty.
On a sidenote: I saw OMD perform multiple times, usually at the (then) amazing Masonic Temple (concert hall). Those young lads put on a great show, too. Frantically limbed, like they’d been drinking all day. And night. 😉