Friday, July 18, 2008

Lb4Lb#5: But We're Okay, We're Fine

I wanna clear my head,
I wanna drink that sun,
I'm gonna love you good and strong
While our love is good and young.
Get Out The Map
Normally, this "" thing is about an album (or two) that particularly moved me in some way. Nothing is as frustrating as buying an entire CD that only has one or two tracks that you really like on it; and few things are as satisfying as finding a collection of songs that flow together and keep you coming back for the whole set.

But THIS time, I want to talk about a "lb4lb" career.

The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life, after all.
Closer to fine
Folk music doesn't get paid the respect it deserves, partly because folk fans pay it FAR too much respect. It's an art form based on intimacy, and the fandom associated with other genres simply spoils the effect.

Nothing kills the joy of listening to Peter Paul and Mary like hearing someone blather on about the symbolism of Puff The Magic Dragon. (I know it's a work of subtle genius, man, you don't need to explain why!) Nothing makes a noble Woody Guthrie protest song more boring than hearing about how noble and historic it is.

(That's not to say covering folk isn't a great idea. Billy Bragg and Wilco paid a fine tribute to Woody with Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2; and Bruce Springsteen didPete Seeger proud with We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.)

Folk is at its best when it is left alone; a troubadour with an instrument. A guitar, three chords, and the Truth. And a little bit of history.

All the shiny little trinkets of temptation
(make new friends)
Something new instead of something old
(but keep the old)
All you gotta do is scratch beneath the surface
(but remember what is gold)
And it's fools gold
Power Of Two
They've played with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. They toured with The B-52's bassist, Sara LeeStephen King set part of a novel around one of their concerts. They sell out tours around the world.

But, there is no reason on earth why the Indigo Girls should be so damned popular. They don't get airplay. They aren't "pretty". Their songs are arguably "all the same" (unless you're actually listening to them). If you're looking at surfaces, theirs is dusty, and someone has written, "Best Buy is that way" in the dust to help move you on.

Scratch beneath that surface, though... you see denim. You feel the calluses on your fingertips. You might smell some weed smoke. But you'll hear those voices. You'll look up to see two women with guitars, and you will swear they are angels giving you something that will change your life.

My friend tanner she says you know
Me and jesus were of the same heart
The only thing that keeps us distant
Is that I keep fuckin up
Shame On You
I don't really know many facts about Amy Ray and Emily Saliers; I heard they were Christians, I heard they were lesbians. I heard they used to be a couple, and I heard...

I heard the music.

That's all that matters, in the end. There is nothing I can say as a fan that will matter, or make a difference to you. But if you listen to that music, those words.

It took a long time to
become the thing I am to you.
And you won't tear it apart
without a fight, without a heart.
Become You
They are tough, honest, beautiful. You won't care about every song on every album; at least, not at first. But they will speak to you, and you will feel something; and it will be like the realization that part of you was asleep. Something you didn't know was hurting will be soothed.

When we get a little distance some things get clearer
Give em the space our hearts grow nearer
I ran as hard as I could and still ended up here
but it's alright
It's Alright

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