July 19, 2005

Shelter Gardens was an amazing gig, and served as one of the best birthday celebrations I've had in years. I was honored to have somewhere around a thousand or more people sing to me, the evening was beautiful despite the heat, the surrounding flowers and babble of water was a wonderful accent. At the end of the night, I realized how lucky I am to be able to celebrate with music, and to have so many friends who support and encourage me. I have such a full life, truly, and I think it hit me very hard this July 10th.

I also dodged a few age questions. Not that it's any big secret how old I am, but ever since I was a teenager I've marveled at how much we use age as a tool to judge others by, when the one thing we truly have absolutely no control over is when we are born. What changes in your perception of someone if they are older or younger than you thought? We should challenge our perceptions... I think it is interesting how a very young person with incredible talent is held up as the epitome of achievement in our culture, but that young person will age as inevitably as anyone else, they will celebrate one birthday every year just like you, and even if you only encounter their talent when they're in their thirties or forties or beyond, that doesn't mean they weren't a child prodigy, or that you wouldn't have been impressed at them at age 14. Talent should be ageless. Its maturation should be celebrated. We trade youth for other virtues. I don't say this because I feel like I'm old, just the opposite. I feel young and vital, a baby in fact, in an industry where everyone around me is listening to the ticking of the clock. Good songs are never written with a timer in front of you. Do you REALLY care how young I am? :)

Anyhow, on to another subject. I went to dinner with friends last Thursday night, and the girls and I sat around listening to music for hours after the meal was over. These two girls, Danielle and Lori, shared an experience with me that night that I haven't felt able to indulge in in years. I love sharing songs and artists with people who might not have heard of them before, and one of the artists I really wanted to introduce to Danielle and Lori that night was Patty Griffin, although I had a tremendous brain fart that night and kept thinking she was Nanci Griffith. Totally different artists, though both incredible in their own right of course. After leaving Danielle's house the night of the dinner party in utter frustration that I couldn't find (or even remember) what I was looking for, I suddenly pictured a cassette tape of this artist's music that my friend Phoebe had made for me and realized it was, after all, Patty. I went out and bought three of her albums and proceeded to discover that music still has the ability to throw my world into a fast spin, stand me on my head, make me fall in love again, make me weep while driving in my car, make me want to spread the joy I've found far and wide. I encourage anyone reading this who doesn't already know Patty to invite her music in. Patty Griffin is a consummate songwriter. Here are the lyrics to her song, "Long Ride Home." :

Long Black Limousine
Shiniest car I've ever seen
Back seat is nice and clean
She rides as quiet as a dream

Someone dug a hole six long feet in the ground
I said goodbye to you and I threw my roses down
Ain't nothing left at all at the end of being proud
With me riding in this car and you flying through them clouds

I've had some time to think about it
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I've had some time to think about you
On the long ride home

One day I took your tiny hand
Put your finger in the wedding band
Daddy gave a piece of land
And we made ourselves the best of plans

Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed
Forty years of things you say you wish you'd never said
How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead
I wonder as I stare at the sky turning red

I've had some time to think about it
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I've had some time to think about you
On the long ride home

Head lights searching down the driveway
The house as dark as it can be
I go inside and all is silent
And seems as empty as the inside of me

I've had some time to think about it
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I've had some time to think about you
On the long ride home

-Patty Griffin

I also adore her song "Mary" and on my drive out west (where I currently am) I saw a HUGE statue of Mary atop a mountain in Montana and every lyric of the song rang truer than ever before. I have much more to write about in terms of our three day drive across the country, and my new musical inspiration, but it's late and I'm exhausted. I can hopefully plant in your mind the image of a magnificent white stone statue of Mary so huge it dwarfs two hundred year old trees, yet manages to seem only regal and beautiful, not gaudy or intrusive, no matter your religious beliefs. I think anyone can relate to the pain and loss Patty Griffin describes through the experience of Mary in this excerpt from the song:

Jesus said 'mother I couldn't stay another day longer'
And he flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels were singing his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place...

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