Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Music Is The Shorthand Of Emotion: Or Can I Quote You?

So said Leo Tolstoy.

Ain't that the truth? So said I. OK, not as eloquent. But as I wait for news of Clay Aiken's new CD and I think about all the possibilities - I am struck by the power of music.

I talked a bit about some of the artists like Ella and Aznavour and Clapton who thrill my soul in Music Memories.

I sometimes try to figure out how singers as different as those and Tom Paxton, Warren Zevon and Clay Aiken fit in my iPod so easily. Then I give up and just give myself over to the music.

I miss my mother and sister who both passed away a few years ago. There are two songs that I play often when I feel a need to be close to them, to cry a little, feel the ache of missing of them and then the joy of knowing they will always be with me.

I feel like my heart will burst when I hear Warren Zevon sing "Keep Me In Your Heart". Is it knowing that he would soon succumb to lung cancer that makes this song so powerful? I lost my mother to lung cancer and yet it's not just that. It's the raw emotion in Zevon's voice and the utter simplicity of the lyrics.

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for while

There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for while

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for while

These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Such simple lyrics - so powerful. Just take a minute and listen to a short clip on Amazon. He does a brilliant version of Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door - damn, the whole album is powerful.

Jackson Browne once called Zevon "the first and foremost proponent of song noir." It's true Warren Zevon was noted for his offbeat, sardonic view of life and his earlier albums are definitely worth exploring. But it's his last album, The Wind, that touches my heart in ways I can't explain.

When I hear Tom Paxton sing "Gettin' Up Early", the same result - my heart fills with sadness and joy all mixed together and I feel connected.

Getting up early to see the mist still kissing the land.
I watch the sun rise the way the great creator planned.
To walk the long grass, and get my legs all covered with dew.
Getting up early, remembering you.
Getting up early, remembering you.

Out in the meadow I see the cows beginning to graze.
I watch a crow fly, I see the sun start burning the haze.
These summer mornings there's not a whole lot left to do.
Getting up early, remembering you.
Getting up early, remembering you.

How many times did we greet the morning sun
And send the stars off to bedtime one by one?
We'd sing "Mister Tambourine man" then
We'd fall into each other's arms again.

Getting up early these days I just can't stay in bed.
I make the coffee, an old song runs around my head.
Out on the back porch, I've got a long day to get through.
Getting up early, remembering you.
Getting up early, remembering you.

You can hear a short clip here on Amazon

Now Tom Paxton is alive and still writing and playing great folk music. If you're not familiar with his stuff - do yourself a favor and start exploring. His music spans decades and addresses issues of injustice and inhumanity, laying bare the absurdities of modern culture and celebrating the tenderest bonds of family, friends, and community.

As Pete Seeger said: "Tom's songs have a way of sneaking up on you. You find yourself humming them, whistling them, and singing a verse to a friend. Like the songs of Woody Guthrie, they're becoming part of America."

There is such power in simplicity and songs sung with honesty can truly touch our emotions as demonstrated by Clay's lovely rendition of My Grown Up Christmas List.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about Music:

What we play is life - Louis Armstrong
Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together- Anais Nin
In memory everything seems to happen to music - Tennessee Williams
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent - Victor Hugo
Don't play what's there, play what's not there - Miles Davis
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music - Aldous Huxley

Share with us some of the songs that touch your emotions!

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Vox Vixen said...

I love your blogs on music. Once I'm back from vacation and back to my beloved high-speed internet, I will definitely check out the video in your post. I love discovering new artists. I recently got an Eva Cassidy CD because of all the praise she was receiving at the CH.


lakecat said...

I am really into upbeat joyous music. I heard Warren Zevon's final album but it was very painful to listen to it. I could feel his life leaving him.

I usually listen to James Taylor, the Kinks, Queen and Clay Aiken. I loved Clay singing "Invisible" at Good Morning America in 2005. Such pure joy.

~ YSRN ~ said...

I remember Warren Zevon music from my yout. I hadn't listened to anything more recent, and I didn't know he had passed. I listened to some stuff on iTunes and am d/ling Keep Me In Your Heart today. I have a feeling I'll be thinking of your blog every time I listen.

My mom did some dj work at a local listener-supported station for a few years. She recently sent me all of her CDs. I'll have to poke around and see if there is any Tom Paxton. I'm betting there is. She played 30s, 40s, and 50s music mostly, but also some more recent folk and blues. And she's a big Van Halen fan. Hee. My mom is very well rounded. ;)

*hugs* to you... I can't imagine losing my mother or my sister; losing both is impossible to comprehend.

Great, thought provoking blog, as always!