Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Saddest Song

There is an archetypal beauty I find when connecting with another person's poetic expression of heartbreak. And when wrapped in the building tension and release of a soul-driven musical composition, sad stories become miniaturized, but no-less-than-epic visceral experiences. A well crafted Sad Song draws me in, and for a moment, I can live the intended expressions as if they are running through my own blood. I accept these brief but powerful openings of the heart as gifts.

Perhaps it's therapeutic to anonymously share the grief of an artist, and safely experience their brokenness in the convenience of my own precious time. And in this space, what is shared flows in and through all the ridiculous social boundaries that separate us, leading straight to the core of our collective good, our Empathy.  Loss of a friend. Loss of a Loved one. The ache of Knowing. The despair of not. Sad Songs can honor those things that we cannot bear to speak of, delivering Light to a situation, when that may seem to be an impossibility.

Although I've never been a depressed person (quite the opposite, in fact), Real Life demands a full range of emotions, else we fade into something tragically inauthentic. And while we set our life goals to somehow circumvent heartbreak, it is in these moments that we are asked to become something better than we have been, allowing the heart to feel exactly what it needs to. The heart, after all, has memory cells much like the brain does, and it never forgets, even when forced to temporarily do so. I respond music that reflects the complexity of this experience, the story of being Alive.

But I wonder, can there be such a thing as the "saddest song"? In the same way that we may experience the greatest sorrow of a lifetime, perhaps one could indeed identify a song that sums it all up. Some singer-songwriters get right to the core of the experience, Elizabeth Frasier, Beck, Rob Dickinson, Beth Gibbons, Ken Andrews....all of whom have taken me on their journey with a powerful familiarity.

Right now, the song that hits me the hardest is this one.

"Empty" by Ray Lamontagne

She lifts her skirt up to her knees
Walks through the garden rows with her bare feet, laughing
And I never learned to count my blessings
I choose instead to dwell in my disasters

Walk on down the hill
Through grass grown tall and brown
And still it's hard somehow to let go of my pain
On past the busted back
of that old and rusted Cadillac
That sinks into this field collecting rain

Will I always feel this way ‒
So empty, so estranged?

And of these cut-throat busted sunsets,
these cold and damp white mornings
I have grown weary
If through my cracked and dusted dime-store lips
I spoke these words out loud would no one hear me?
Lay your blouse across the chair,
Let fall the flowers from your hair
And kiss me with that country mouth so plain.
Outside the rain is tapping on the leaves
To me it sounds like they're applauding us,
The quiet love we've made.

Will I always feel this way
So empty, so estranged?

Well, I looked my demons in the eyes
laid bare my chest, said "Do your best, destroy me.
You see, I've been to hell and back so many times,
I must admit you kind of bore me."
There's a lot of things that can kill a man
There's a lot of ways to die
Yes, and some already dead that walk beside me
There's a lot of things I don't understand
Why so many people lie
Well, it's the hurt I hide that fuels the fires inside me

Will I always feel this way
So empty, so estranged

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