Hejira

 

a day for songs

November 15. 2000

olde city:

roman colums

some really important historical looking building

*

things are fancy on Delancey Street

Delancey Street

*

nothing but

blue skies

*

it's June, I said

coming to the graveyard

*

she's gone, but I'm alive, I'm alive

with my little tune

I had several songs stuck in my head as I was going downtown this morning. One was "Shackamaxon Street", sung by Susan Werner. I guess it was because I was walking right near the actual Shackamaxon Street (Susan Werner's from Philadelphia, so local places often make it into her songs), right near the river. The words kept refraining in my head:

That old Shackamaxon Street, sugar refinery
it's just a place by the river that I sometimes go
every season just floats by
the channel's filled with broken ice
today's the day that winter finally let go

I've waited so long for the springtime
I've waited for the love in your eyes

For some reason, that last line just kept coming back to me, over and over, and it made me think of John. Then, as I was crossing a street, I looked up to see a street sign saying "Delancey Street", which also reminded me of John, because he used to live on Delancey Street - the one in New York City. I had no idea there was one in Philadelphia, too.

I was passing by an old graveyard, and I noticed the gates were open, and upon seeing people roaming around inside, I went in too, and took some pictures of the impossibly blue sky, the leaves crunching underfoot, and the sunshine reflecting and making the gravestones gleam and shine. I began humming "Graveyard" by Tori Amos. It's a little song, maybe a minute long, but very beautiful and full of longing.

here I said
don't even let this go
and it's hey
to that old man
I'm coming in the graveyard
with my little tune
it's june
I said she's gone but I'm alive
I'm alive
I'm coming in the graveyard to
sing you to sleep
now

It's been a day for songs, songs flitting in and out of my head, little phrases and melodies and lyrics that I sing absently to myself, often unaware that I'm doing so.

I came home and canvassed my mp3s for something interesting. Rob mentioned that today was Aaron Copland's birthday, and fond memories of his music prompted me to download Appalachian Spring. I'd forgotten just how breathtaking the whole thing is. It reminds me of huge wide open spaces, rolling green hills, and diving and soaring over the landscape like a bird.

I listened to Joni's version of "Summertime" (which can be found on one of Herbie Hancock's albums), her smoky voice sliding over the notes, playing with and manipulating the familiar and oft-sung phrases so they became something entirely different.

A couple weeks ago on RDT, I asked a question of the membership: "What song gives you an incredible rush, brings tears to your eyes, and makes your heart beat faster?" For me, the answer is "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. I am absolutely transfixed by this song. When it's playing, I can only sit and listen to it and concentrate on nothing else until the four minutes and twenty-nine seconds are up.

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

The lyrics and melody are so fluid, and with such a sense of desperation and finality to them. I've always found Bruce Springsteen's songs exhilarating, songs that are good to play while driving really fast on a highway with all the windows down.

Isn't music just amazing? It's such a gift, really, the words and melodies we craft together to live and love by. Songs that weave themselves into our lives until they're inextricably linked with a place, a person, or a feeling. Songs that define a generation, or a decade, or an event. It's powerful magic.

One Year Ago:
"But when I looked at the pictures from prom that I got back later, all I could think was "not me". It was a complete alienation from what I wanted to be and thought I was. Maybe it's because I perceive female as being something weak."